Perhaps more than anything else (well, up until Vladimir Putin officially stepped onto the scene earlier this month) Europe’s worsening migrant crisis has served to wake the world up to just how important Syria’s four-year-old civil war truly is.
While the plight of a single drowned toddler whose lifeless body washed ashore in Turkey is indeed tragic, the fact is that thanks in no small part to Western meddling, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and displaced as a result of the fighting in Syria and now, Angela Merkel’s attempt to improve Germany’s image abroad by promising to play host to refugees fleeing violence in the Mid-East has served to splinter the EU along racial and religious lines as the Balkan countries on the frontlines of the massive people flow believe they should have a say in who gets to settle within their borders.
Of course, as we documented on Monday, not everyone in Germany is particularly thrilled with Merkel’s stance on Syrian asylum seekers either, and now, it looks as though the country’s willingness to take in Mid-East refugees will result in the expulsion of so-called “economic migrants” from the Balkans. Here’s more from Bloomberg:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government signaled it will step up expulsions of economic migrants after the influx of asylum seekers reached a record in September.
As Russian airstrikes inside Syria escalate the country’s 4 1/2 year civil war that has led millions to flee, lawmakers in Berlin took up legislation Thursday to trim benefits and step up enforcement of asylum rules. The bill also boosts spending to tackle the immediate crisis of Germany’s biggest wave of refugees since World War II.
Merkel faces criticism within her governing coalition for pledging an open door for people fleeing war and saying Germany can handle the inflow. Her green light is “a mistake we’ll be dealing with for a long time,” Horst Seehofer, head of the Merkel-allied CSU party that governs Bavaria, said last month.
Germany expects an estimated 800,000 refugees this year, many of them economic migrants from the Balkans who will eventually be sent home. September’s inflow was the highest monthly total in decades, de Maiziere told lawmakers. As many as 10,000 people per day arrived at the end of the month, he said Tuesday.
Merkel has repeatedly said that while Germany will take in war refugees, economic migrants won’t be able to stay. To help filter them out, the refugee bill, which Merkel wants to pass by Oct. 16, aims to speed up processing of asylum applications. Germany may also need to set up screening centers at the country’s land borders, similar to procedures used at airports, de Maiziere said Wednesday.
On a very important level, fleeing bullets, barrel bombs, tanks, and sword-wielding jihadists is something entirely different from fleeing poverty, but ultimately, immigrants seeking a new life in Germany are all seeking to improve their lot and it would appear that the influx of refugees from Syria will effectively mean that Germany’s borders are closed to anyone not fleeing a bloody civil war.
Again, that makes some measure of sense from a humanitarian perspective but when it comes to demographic shifts, what you ideally want is immigrants who are determined to be productive members of society and while there is no doubt that many Syrian refugees will end up being just that (it’s the law of large numbers: bring in enough people and some of them will invariably benefit society), economic migrants by definition are aiming to contribute, which means that when you systematically shut them out in order to make room for people who are simply desperate, you make it less likely that, in the final analysis, the inflow will be a net positive for the economy.
And of course the incorrigible Mr. Schaeuble will make sure that the fiscal picture isn't darkened by spending too much to accommodate migrants, meaning that no matter how charitable Merkel wants to get, there will eventaully be a limit:
Merkel’s insistence that Germany can house, feed and assimilate the refugees -- “I’m convinced we can make it,” she said in parliament on Sept. 24 -- is backed with at least 6.7 billion euros ($7.5 billion) in emergency federal spending that’s part of the bill. Nonetheless, the government is sticking with its plan for a balanced budget in 2016, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Wednesday.
So as the pressure rises with each passing day that Syria spends in war-torn hell, and as fiscal rectitude and the spectre of social instability serve to constrain Merkel's post-Greek-debt-drama "generosity", we'll simply close with the following map which does a nice job of demonstrating just how dramatic the demographic shift has been in response to the violence that plagues Syria: