By Gideon Rachman
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans populated the world. Now the world is populating Europe. Beyond the furore about the impact of the 1m-plus refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015 lie big demographic trends. The current migration crisis is driven by wars in the Middle East. But there are also larger forces at play that will ensure immigration into Europe remains a vexed issue long after the war in Syria is over.
Donald Trump – would not rule out the idea of a database to track Muslims in America
Watching the debate on terrorism from the US this week has been a bizarre experience. The attacks took place in France – but it seems to be the US where the political demands for ever-tougher border controls are taking hold. On November 19th (Thursday), the House of Representatives passed the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act (SAFE – get it!) which would stop resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the US indefinitely. By contrast, President Hollande has just reaffirmed that France will take 30,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years. Read more
When 12 people were murdered by terrorists in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, earlier this year, more than 2m came out on to the streets of France to demonstrate in sympathy and protest. It seems unlikely that there will be a similar outpouring of public emotion in response to the deaths of hundreds of would-be migrants - drowned in the Mediterranean over the weekend as they attempted to make the crossing to Europe. Read more
An electoral poster opposing the "Stop Mass Immigration" referendum Getty Images
The result of the Swiss referendum - narrowly approving restrictions on free movement of people from the European Union – presents a big dilemma for the administrations in both Bern and Brussels. The Swiss now have the massive headache of trying to renegotiate their painstakingly constructed deals with the EU – a large and angry partner. The EU has to decide how to strike the balance between indulgence and punishment, in responding to the Swiss.
Having just listened to the vice-president of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, speaking on the radio, it seems likely to me that the EU will take the punitive route. But that, I think, would be a mistake. Read more
♦ Serbia plans to borrow billions from the United Arab Emirates – the country’s deputy prime minister warned that it could face bankruptcy without urgent steps to cut public sector wages.
♦ The Washington Post breaks down the effect of the US government shut down on individual departments.
♦ Ezra Klein at the Washington Post argues that “the American political system is being torn apart by deep structural changes that don’t look likely to reverse themselves anytime soon” and a “deal to reopen the government won’t fix what ails American politics.”
♦ Slate reports on how the Egyptian army is stepping up its efforts to shut down the illicit trade tunnels between Sinai and Gaza. Its campaign in north Sinai is affecting both civilians and militants.
♦ Bashar al-Assad’s regime is waging a PR campaign, spreading stories of rebels engaging in “sex jihad” and massacring Christians, according to Der Spiegel.
♦ British artist Banksy’s latest work, which focuses on Syria, has Syria-watchers bemused, the New York Times reports.
♦ The latest book from Paul Collier, co-director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, examines the impact of migration and the benefits of it to migrants, host communities and those left behind. Read more