The labor market is tight and will remain tight due to an aging population and dejuvenation: the working population is shrinking. The countryside is depopulated all over Europe. Turn the flow of refugees from a problem to a solution. House them where vacancy arises and use them as migrant workers to fill gaps in the health care and technical industry where there are already labor shortages.
An uncontrolled influx of refugees understandably triggers fears in many people, and that is exactly what Lukashenko and Putin are aiming for. But it betrays that they only resort to a short-lived tactic. They have no strategy, no plan to win the war with the West in which they think they are.
They are wasting their time destabilizing the European Union. Putin and Lukashenko live in a bygone world. The young people and especially young women who do see a perspective and therefore have a plan, saw the legs of their power. They are the future. Dictators chase everyone away with contradiction and thus always cause the brain drain that ultimately means their downfall – even if it can sometimes take a long time. In the light of history, dictators are by definition temporary. They are never the continuity they claim to embody.
But with their lack of scruples and with their state repression, they are extremely agile against our unwieldy democratic multi-state system. This calls for creative, unconventional thinking in Europe. In addition to directly rejecting ‘fortune seekers’ without a chance of residency status and directly granting work permits to sought-after highly educated migrants, a third way is needed that takes the migratory pressure off the kettle and takes the wind out of Putin and Lukashenko’s sails.
If the migrants from Iraqi Kurdistan can only be illegally in the European Union because the area they come from has been declared safe, then it should also be possible for the European Union to work on a better economic perspective for these people. They experience their existence as hopeless. Apparently it is not possible to build a decent existence in Northern Iraq. The country is a dysfunctional state.
Let the European Union therefore set up a university in the area for vocational training in fields where Europe already has major shortages that will only increase in the coming decades due to the aging population: health care and technical professions. Anyone who successfully completes a training there is eligible for a work permit. Those who pass the entrance examination will receive an EU grant for the duration of the training that is sufficient to support a family as a breadwinner. I think it would be useful if education in the English language is part of it from the start. You can work anywhere in Europe with English.
In this way we take the sting out of the problem: there is a future perspective. The costs involved will be a fraction of that of the repression needed to close all the EU’s external borders. Those costs are suddenly no longer a fund perdu, but an investment in the future of the European economy or that of the Kurdish economy in northern Iraq.
Europe is ageing. Across the European Union, rural villages are already becoming depopulated. A trained maintenance technician, construction worker, nurse, doctor or teacher who starts a family and thus supports the local community is welcomed there with open arms.
I am not advocating just opening the doors wide to everyone. Such a training and migration process may well be a knock-out race in which only the best earn such a European scholarship and reach the finish line. And those who conceal past crimes risk having their residence status revoked. But every righteous person deserves at least a fair chance.