Racism and xenophobia are bad for business, says new report


Migrants and ethnic minorities should be considered as part of the solution to Europe’s economic crisis, not part of the problem, according to a new report by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).

Titled Hidden Talents, Wasted Talents? The real cost of neglecting the positive contribution of migrants and ethnic minorities the report argues that the failure to recognise the talents and contributions of a more diverse labour market squanders a huge opportunity to revitalise the EU’s sluggish economy.

Despite Europe’s ageing population and declining birth rate, the discourse on foreign-born citizens and EU citizens from a migrant background often falsely links them to unemployment and crime levels.

The ENAR report aims to dispel such myths; it is also hopes to change the narrative from one focused on human rights to one looking at the political, cultural and economic contribution of migrants.

It gives various examples of the way in which multilingualism has opened Europe up to new markets and improved its competitive edge, as well as the contribution of migrants to innovation, politics, sports and cuisine.

The report also outlines some of the facts of the contribution of migrants to European society and economy. In the UK for instance, 19 per cent of care workers and 35 per cent of nurses employed in long-term care come from a migrant background.

OECD research found that small to medium-sized businesses owned by migrants create between an additional 1.4 and 2.1 jobs.

In France, migrants pay 12 billion euros in taxes every year, and in Germany, the Turkish community contributes an estimated 35 billion euros to the economy every year.

“The EU cannot function without the contribution of migrants and ethnic minorities,” says Claude Moraes, who hosted the launch of the ENAR report.

Moraes, who is the Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party and who was the first MEP of Asian origin, also said: “That is why there’s little sense in being only defensive and in using only the human rights’ discourse, we have to win the economic argument.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström added: “It’s strange that many EU member states are still struggling to see themselves as migration countries with a diverse population.

“Migrants are here to stay. It’s a fact, so we have to make the best of it.

“If in any member state all migrants would stop to work for just one day, the whole economy of that country would collapse.”

Malmström applauded the Associated Press news agency for their recent decision to stop using the phrase “illegal immigrant” and said the Commission is working on several measures – such as the recent seasonal workers’ directive – to improve EU migration policies, but said they are experiencing “strong opposition at minister level in the Council.”

UK writer and economist Philippe Legrain said that “the key message should be that Europe’s biggest asset is diversity. At the end of the day, if we take some of the most successful IT companies in the US such as Ebay, Google, Yahoo, YouTube and PayPal, they were all founded by migrants or people with migrant background. Europe should learn this lesson from the US.”

ENAR Deputy Director Shannon Pfohman was keen to stress how this report is just the beginning of a bigger project: “There is a lack of statistics on these issues, so we encourage further research and will keep collecting testimonies and success stories.”

"Special attention must be paid to the gender dimension, as the talents of women are even more hidden as they suffer from a double discrimination.”