The huge shift of population which is currently taking place as tens of thousands of asylum seekers and economic migrants arrive in Europe from the Middle East and Northern Africa, will have profound consequences for the future economic, political and cultural development of the continent.
Politicians and public policy analysts differ as to the economic, social, and political consequences of large-scale immigration. Those broadly in favour of admitting large numbers of immigrants point to the resultant increases in gross domestic product, and to the need to fill labour shortages in Western Europe and compensate for falling birth rates. Large-scale immigration is also defended on moral and humanitarian grounds, and on the basis that it contributes to cultural diversity.
Those who oppose high levels of immigration argue that it lowers per capita incomes, places an unacceptable strain on public services - especially housing, education and health-, while damaging social cohesion; it is also argued that countries from which immigrants come can ill afford to lose many of their most enterprising and motivated citizens.
Do the costs of immigration therefore outweigh the benefits, or is the matter the other way around?
Continuing its series of debates on issues of contemporary interest, the Danube Institute held a debate on this issue on 22nd September at ELTE University, Budapest, where opposing views were discussed.