European Network Against Racism statement: Europe is losing out by failing to recognise the talents of migrants and ethnic minorities

by , under ENAR

March 9, 2013: Migrants and ethnic minorities contribute hugely to Europe’s economic, social, political and cultural life. But failing to recognise and value this contribution –or worse, setting barriers to migrants’ participation in society– results in a waste of these many talents. This has a damaging impact on Europe’s resilience to the economic crisis, its creativity, and on the well being of European residents. 

ENAR’s publication: Hidden Talents, Wasted Talents? The real cost of neglecting the positive contribution of migrants and ethnic minorities’, launched today, provides evidence that migrants and minorities do contribute to Europe and that many talents go unrecognised. For instance, despite misconstrued myths of migrants as ‘welfare scroungers’, migrants are in fact contributing more to welfare states overall than the rest of the population. In France, a study found that migrants contribute 12 billion Euro annually to the state. Migrants are also playing a particular role in care work –a sector which is critically important to ensure high levels of labour market participation– and in sustaining healthcare systems across the EU. In the UK, migrant workers account for 19% of care workers and 35% of nurses employed in longterm care. In Ireland, 17.4% of health professionals identify themselves as migrants.

Yet Europe is not taking full advantage of its rich variety of cultures, traditions and languages. Rather, the fight for equality meets strong opposition, with widespread racism, xenophobia and discrimination. High unemployment across much of the continent has also led to an exacerbation of fears, with many blaming migrants. The notion that migrants are ‘stealing’ jobs from natives is unfounded, however. The reality is that migrants are needed to secure the future well being of Europe, particularly as populations grow older and birth rates decline. Moreover, in the midst of the economic crisis, one in four employers in Europe have difficulty filling positions due to lack of qualified individuals. Creating more opportunities for migrants would thus be to the advantage of everyone and would contribute to putting European economies back on track. European leaders must take mbitious measures to break down structural barriers and policies that do not make economic sense or ensure human rights protections, and that further limit migrants’ opportunities to participate fully in society.

ENAR Chair Chibo Onyeji said: “Imagine , how many more migrant ‘success stories’ would come to light if we ceased wasting talents because of discriminatory and exclusionary practices? How much better off would we all be? Diversity is part of the very foundation of Europe, and we can only build a strong and successful Europe by recognising on the value of our differences and revealing the hidden talents among us.”