Posts Tagged ‘migration’

Martin Wolf on Brexit

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

The always sensible Martin Wolf writes, in his FT column today, that exit from the EU means exit from the customs union and single market along with exit from EU regulation and intra-bloc migration. The only feasible alternative is to ignore the Brexit referendum results. This is not likely.

“Brexit means Brexit.” As circular as it is concise, this three-word sentence tells us much about the style of Theresa May, the UK prime minister. I take this to mean that the UK will, in her view, formally leave the EU, without the option of a second referendum or a parliamentary override. If so, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the outcome will be “hard Brexit”.

By “hard Brexit” I mean a departure not only from the EU but also from the customs union and the single market. ….

Why then is a hard Brexit the most likely outcome? My belief rests on the view that this UK government will not seek to reverse the result of the vote and that it will feel obliged to impose controls on immigration from the EU and to free itself from the bloc’s regulations overseen by its judicial processes. ….

The only reasonable alternative to hard Brexit would be to stay inside the EU. Parliament is constitutionally entitled to ignore the vote result. The people could also be asked if they wanted to change their minds. But the Conservatives would surely follow Labour into ruin if they tried to reverse the outcome. Their Brexiters would go berserk. ….

The UK has chosen a largely illusory autonomy over EU membership. That has consequences. It will have to accept this grim reality and move as quickly as it can to whatever the future holds.

Martin Wolf, “Theresa May limbers up for a hard Brexit“, Financial Times, 21 September 2016 (metered paywall).

UK-EU relations after Brexit

Monday, August 29th, 2016

FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau explains what we all know (or should know). The EU will never grant the UK full access to its single market unless it is coupled with free movement of labour.

An EU without free movement labour is like the Catholic Church without the Holy Ghost. ….

I would not want to sacrifice the benefits of the single market for the illusory benefit of sending home a few thousand immigrants from eastern or south-eastern Europe. But if the British government decides to prioritise immigration control, it will have to settle for a free-trade agreement.

This would still allow UK businesses to export manufactured goods into the EU without paying tariffs. But the City of London would lose the cherished single passport, which allows UK-based firms to conduct business everywhere in the EU with no questions asked.

Wolfgang Münchau, “Remainers fighting the wrong battle will harden Brexit“, Financial Times, 29 August 2016 (metered paywall).

New York, Miami and the Mariel exodus

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Iván Acosta (born 1943) left Cuba in 1961 and settled in New York, where he now works as a playwright, filmmaker and publicist.

Below are excerpts from statements Acosta made when interviewed on the subject of Amigos (1985), the first full-length film he completed as director and screenwriter. The film conveys the experience of Ramón, a fictional refugee who arrives in Miami by sea with the Mariel exodus.

I happened to be in Miami when the Mariel exodus started. Early May 1980. ….

Speaking with my friend Marcelino Miyares, who was the C.E.O. of WBBS Channel 60 in Chicago, I told him it would be great to film a documentary about the Mariel experience; Marcelino asked me, why not a movie instead? …. We created a company, … and [began] filming in July. It took us 8 weeks to film Amigos. We filmed 80% of the film in Miami; the rest was shot in South Carolina, Washington DC, Union City, New Jersey, and New York City. ….

The Cuban community in Miami had a very negative attitude towards the new refugees. So, to me, it was very important to tell the human story of the Marielitos. …. I wrote the script as a bittersweet comedy drama. …. Of course, the Cuban ultra conservatives or extreme right of Miami … didn’t like some of the things said and denounced in Amigos. ….

We all know Cuban machismo; I have seen it and experienced it all my life. You see, the revolution was the greatest promoter of machismo. All those bearded, sweaty, cigar smokers and trigger- happy militiamen impregnated the macho image—an image the maximum leader always projected and demanded among revolutionary militants. Hundreds of homosexuals were sent to prisons and to hard-labor concentrations camps, las UMAP, just for not being macho enough for revolutionary standards. Cubans, pro and anti Castro, somehow tried to imitate the Máximo Líder. I have always disliked the extreme machismo, not only among Cubans, but among all men …. We do know machismo exists, and in many societies it is celebrated and even rewarded. That was what happened in Cuba after 1959. The men wanted to be more manly than ever before, and that influence came with the exiles. I tried to ridicule the absurd machista behavior throughout different scenes in the movie. ….

To me, machistas, racists, and homophobics go hand in hand. Unfortunately, that mentality exists among some Cubans, in exile and in the archipelago. ….

I love Miami. I have never lived in Miami, although I visit it at least once a year. ….
You see, I’ve lived all my 50 plus years in exile in New York City. They always say Cubans in New York think different than Cubans in Miami, even than Cubans across the Hudson River in New Jersey. It is true, Cuban New Yorkers think and have a different perspective of the Cuban situation in general. We always hear about “Cuban Success,” which is real for some, but we never hear about a majority of hard-working Cuban exiles: in factories, restaurants, mechanical shops, construction, farms, etc. Those represent the real Cuban exiles, the working men and women who, in several cases, risked their lives to escape from Cuba to live and work in freedom. But some people consider successful those who accumulated several millions of dollars and have a luxurious yacht, a big mansion with 5 or 6 expensive automobiles. In Amigos, I tried to show that balance without criticism, the gap between the Cubans who have a lot and the unsung heroes who built the Cuban Miami and don’t have as much.

AMIGOS and Miami Post-Mariel“, Carolina Caballero talks to director IVAN ACOSTA, Cuba Counterpoints, 1 August 2016.

Carolina Caballero was born in the United States to Cuban parents. She lectures in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, at Tulane University in New Orleans. The questions she asks Mr Acosta, more of his answers, and stills from the film Amigos, can be downloaded at the link above.

populist rage

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Martin Wolf’s Wednesday column is always good. This week it is superb.

“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” HL Mencken could have been thinking of today’s politics. The western world undoubtedly confronts complex problems, notably, the dissatisfaction of so many citizens. Equally, aspirants to power, such as Donald Trump in the US and Marine Le Pen in France, offer clear, simple and wrong solutions — notably, nationalism, nativism and protectionism.

The remedies they offer are bogus. But the illnesses are real. If governing elites continue to fail to offer convincing cures, they might soon be swept away and, with them, the effort to marry democratic self-government with an open and co-operative world order. ….

Real income stagnation over a far longer period than any since the second world war is a fundamental political fact. But it cannot be the only driver of discontent. … So, too, does immigration [and culural changes] — globalisation made flesh. Citizenship of their nations is the most valuable asset owned by most people in wealthy countries. They will resent sharing this with outsiders. Britain’s vote to leave the EU was a warning. [Emphasis added.]

So what is to be done? ….

First, understand that we depend on one another for our prosperity. …. Second, reform capitalism. …. Third, [reform taxation.] …. Fourth, accelerate economic growth and improve opportunities. …. Fifth, fight the quacks [see the first two paragraphs above].

Above all, recognise the challenge. …. [F]ailure must not be accepted. Our civilisation itself is at stake.

Martin Wolf, “Global elites must heed the warning of populist rage“, Financial Times, 20 July 2016 (metered paywall).

For details, read the full column. If you are not a subscriber, use of one of your three free monthly downloads (registration required).

jobs for refugees in Germany

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

About 1m migrants arrived in Germany last year, about a third of them refugees from Syria. ….

A survey by the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper of the top 30 German companies found that they had together employed just 54 refugees. Fifty of them were hired by one company, Deutsche Post. ….

A spokesman for Bayer, the German pharmaceuticals group, said that while refugees were motivated and willing to learn, “they come from countries with educational systems where science is barely taught, and that’s what you need for a job at Bayer.” He said the company had so far not employed a single refugee.

Guy Chazan and Patrick McGee, “Survey reveals Germany’s top companies employ just 54 refugees“, Financial Times, 16 July 2016.

On the other hand, thousands of refugees have found jobs with smaller firms. (See the link below.) The FT journalists overlook this relevant fact.

Germany’s employment agency has estimated that at least 30,000 refugees have found jobs in the country since spring 2015. ….

A quarter of employed refugees were working on temporary contracts. Many had menial jobs as janitors or as security guards.

That is laudable, he [Federal Employment Agency chief Frank-Jürgen Weise] said. “On the other hand, we currently have in terms of asylum seekers 130,000 people who are unemployed and on benefits,” Weise said.

Thousands of refugees find work in Germany“, Deutsche Welle, 10 July 2016.

support for Donald Trump in rural Maryland

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

FT journalist David Lynch reports from Worcester County, a Republican corner of the solidly Democratic state of Maryland.

Mr Trump drew 73 per cent of the … county’s vote in … [last April’s] Republican primary, his best showing anywhere in the state, and exit polls showed that anti-immigration sentiment was a big reason. ….

With its tidy towns, sun-splashed farms and corn stalks at midsummer height, this is not a place that bears obvious signs of being overrun by alien cultures. Less than 5 per cent of the county’s population was born outside the US compared with a national average of more than 13 per cent. ….

A stout tradition of self-reliance colours political opinion. For many, immigration objections reflect a deeper distaste for a federal government that they see as overly intrusive in daily life yet powerless to ward off foreign dangers, whether unauthorised migrants, Islamic terrorists or global bureaucrats.

Unchecked migration raises the spectre of terrorist attacks, imported diseases and competition for US workers, said [the Republican county chairman,] Grant Helvey …. [The chairman] also worries that local development limits are part of a UN plot to scuttle individual property rights.

“There’s too much globalisation going on,” said Mr Helvey …. “I resent some of the stuff coming out of the United Nations and becoming policy in my neighbourhood.”

David J Lynch, “Immigration fears boost Trump far from Mexican border“, Financial Times, 5 July 2016 (metered paywall).

a third EU exit option

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Michael Emerson, a Brussels-based researcher, writes that there is a precedent for access to the EU single market without free movement of people, an exit option that FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau yesterday dismissed as unrealistic.

Sir, For all the talk about the choice between the Norwegian and Canadian options …. nobody in the UK seems yet to have noticed that it is the Ukraine model that was made in heaven for the seceding UK.

The EU’s Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with Ukraine, signed in 2014, includes both basic tariff-free trade and the fullest degree of single market inclusion for good and services, to the extent that Ukraine is willing and able to implement EU single market law. The DCFTA even has detailed and explicit provisions for how Ukraine may achieve full internal market status for financial services and other service sectors. However there is no free movement of people, since the EU was worried about the risks of excessive migration from Ukraine to the EU. …. The Ukraine agreement also allows for an extensive participation by this non-member state in the EU’s many agencies and programmes, such as the European Defence Agency, the Horizon 2020 programme for scientific research, and many others of definite interest to the UK.

Michael Emerson, “Ukrainian trade model was made for the UK“, letter to the editor, Financial Times, 5 July 2016 (metered paywall).

Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a Belgian think tank.

It is interesting to learn that a precedent exists for access to the EU single market without free movement of people, but the Ukraine example may not be relevant for the case of the UK. An important difference is the absence of “excessive migration” from the UK to continental Europe.

Britain’s EU exit options

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Fifty-two percent of UK voters, in a heart-wrenching referendum, opted for the choice of leaving the European Union (EU). The country must now choose an exit process. FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau believes that there are two realistic options.

The most straightforward option, and the one I favour, is membership of the European Economic Area, currently a group of three countries — Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein — that have unhindered access to the single market. I am aware of the obstacles. The quid pro quo would be full acceptance of the EU’s four freedoms, including the most important one: the freedom of movement of labour. Britain would also have to pay in to the EU’s budget. ….

The EEA or Norway option is utterly inflexible. You cannot negotiate a bit less market access for a bit less freedom of movement. If you choose the EEA, there is in fact not much to negotiate.

The second option for the UK would be a bilateral free trade agreement — of the kind the EU is negotiating with Canada. This is not to be confused with single market access. …. A bilateral agreement would allow for the free flow of goods and some services. But it is clearly not the same as being part of the single market.

Wolfgang Munchau, “Britain must pursue its EU exit options“, Financial Times, 4 July 2016 (metered paywall).

The EEA (Norway) option is favoured by those who prefer to remain in the EU, for a good reason: it is equivalent to remaining in the EU, except that London will lose its voice in EU decisions. But if this option is chosen, what is the purpose of Brexit?

Mr Munchau’s first option, it seems to me, is not realistic. That leaves only the second option: a bilateral trade agreement without free movement of labour. Unless, of course, Parliament decides not to carry out the wishes of those who voted in favour of Brexit in the referendum.

Syrian refugees in Canada

Friday, July 1st, 2016

There is a nice article (with photos) in today’s New York Times that reports the warm welcome that Canadians are providing refugees from Syria. Everything has gone very smoothly so far.  Here is a brief excerpt:


Jodi Kantor and Catrin Einhorn, “Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word: Welcome“, New York Times, 30 June 2016.

Brexit may not happen

Monday, June 27th, 2016

There is widespread alarm that UK citizens have voted to leave the European Union. FT columnist Gideon Rachman predicts, however, that the exit may never happen. After all, the UK has never participated fully in the EU. It never adopted the euro, and never joined the Schengen passport-free zone. Can the nation “distance itself [further] from the hard core of the bloc, while keeping its access to the single market”? Mr Rachman thinks this is possible.

All good dramas involve the suspension of disbelief. So it was with Brexit. … [B]elatedly, I realised that I have seen this film before. I know how it ends. And it does not end with the UK leaving Europe.

Any long-term observer of the EU should be familiar with the shock referendum result. In 1992 the Danes voted to reject the Maastricht treaty. The Irish voted to reject both the Nice treaty in 2001 and the Lisbon treaty in 2008.

And what happened in each case? The EU rolled ever onwards. The Danes and the Irish were granted some concessions by their EU partners. They staged a second referendum. And the second time around they voted to accept the treaty. So why, knowing this history, should anyone believe that Britain’s referendum decision is definitive? ….

Like all good dramas, the Brexit story has been shocking, dramatic and upsetting. But its ending is not yet written.

Gideon Rachman, “I do not believe that Brexit will happen“, Financial Times, 28 June 2016.

In the case of the UK, the concession needed is on migration. Mr Rachman thinks that a second referendum would easily favour remaining in the EU if the UK were allowed “to limit the number of EU nationals moving to Britain if it has surged beyond a certain level”.

Despite Mr Rachman’s optimism, it is worth noting that no country so far has managed to gain access to the single market without accepting the principle of unrestrained, free migration. (See “Reality Check: Have Leave campaigners changed their minds?“, BBC News, accessed 27 June 2016, 14:25 PST.)

An estimated three million nationals of other EU countries currently live and work in the UK. More than a quarter of these migrants are Polish.