Shortly after Angela Merkel’s nation-shaping decision to allow over a million migrants to enter Germany in 2015, her ministerial team set about explaining the motives behind her actions. While Merkel’s justification took the form of many divergent arguments one, in particular, was at the forefront of the Chancellor’s reasoning. Demographics.
This specific defence of Merkel’s open-border policy is best encapsulated by German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. In September 2015, when seemingly endless streams of migrants were walking unopposed into Germany, he went on record stating “We need people. We need young people. We need immigrants… All of you know that because we have too few children”. Whether de Maiziere genuinely believed in what he said, or was simply towing the party line, is a matter we shall never know; but this sentiment was nevertheless echoed across Germany. Hans Kundani, a journalist working for a German-American NGO likewise stated that “You can look at this as Germany pursuing a national interest in the sense that Germany has a long-term demographic problem”.
The demographic problem that both of these men refer to is no myth. In 2015, the Germany fertility rate was at 1.5 births per woman. This is below the EU average, and far lower than the population ‘replacement rate’ of 2.1. By 2030, the proportion of working-age residents in Germany is also predicted to fall from 61 per cent to 54 per cent.
However, while it is true that Germany does face issues of demography, is mass immigration a practical solution to the problem? British writer Douglas Murray, in The Strange Death of Europe, gives an infallible argument against Merkel’s reasoning. Murray leaves no doubt in reader’s minds that the European Union’s most powerful official must be either critically incompetent; or a liar.
For one, Merkel’s reasoning ignores the fact, so clearly elucidated by Murray, that migrants themselves get older; thus causing the eternal need for ever more migrants as time progresses. As migrants enter Germany, they ensure that even greater numbers are required in future; and thus the process is doomed to repeat itself with a continually increasing rate of immigration. Merkel’s espoused strategy is not sustainable in the long-term; immaterial of the fact that many migrants require more money from the state, over their lifetime, than they could ever contribute in the form of taxation.
Merkel’s outlook towards demographics also ignores the essential truth behind why German birth rates are so low. When first ruminating on your nation’s low birth rate, any competent world leader would surely look at fixing the root causes of the problem; as opposed to immediately looking to import a million people. The low birth rates in Western Europe are not indicative of a continent that has shunned the idea of children, but instead portrays a continent where lifestyle factors have led women to decide against having large families. British research, quoted by Murray in The Strange Death of Europe, found that only 8 per cent of women didn’t want children, and only 4 per cent wanted one child. By contrast, 55 per cent wanted two children; and the rest of the population three or more. For the average Western European woman, it is facts of life, such as the loss of income when a child is born, that discourage them from having as many children as they desire.
When facing the migrant crisis in 2015, Merkel would surely have been aware of this sentiment in her own country. If she had any idea, then Merkel should have known that mass migration was not a viable long-term solution to account for low German birth rates. By fixing the root issues that are causing native Germans to have fewer children, Merkel would have been infinitely more successful in plugging the nation’s long-term demographic shortfall. Programs such a generous maternity leave, while expensive to implement, would largely negate any apparent ‘necessity’ for mass immigration from the third-world; and would avoid the litany of costs and threats to social cohesion that present themselves as a result.
Even if Merkel was misguided enough to have believed mass immigration to be the solution to her demographic headaches, then this does not explain why she felt that immigration from the Middle-East and North Africa was necessary. In 2015, Greek unemployment was at 24.9 per cent, and Spanish unemployment was 21.1 per cent. Portugal sat at 12.4 per cent and Italy at 11.9 per cent. Youth unemployment in these nations was generally much higher, and unemployment in certain regions, such as Southern Italy, was also far greater than the national average. If Merkel was genuinely intent on plugging Germany’s demographic shortfall with immigration, surely a concerted effort to attract the working-age unemployed of the Mediterranean region would have been a far sounder strategy. This is also a point made by Douglas Murray on many occasions; such as in a 2017 Freedomain Radiointerview with Stefan Molyneux.
The Mediterranean nations had, and still do have, a large unemployed populous that Germany would have been able to attract; had a genuine effort been made by officials in Berlin. Germany and the Mediterranean nations are all within the European Union, and such a strategy would have been congruent with that ever-present EU mantra of an ‘ever closer union’. The Mediterranean nations would have similarly been pleased to see the number of their unemployed reduce; one can only imagine that substantial welfare payments do not aid their already embattled finances.
This is all before any notion of culture is even discussed. While not identical, German culture has more in common with that of the Mediterranean states than with those of the Middle East or North Africa. A leaked German intelligence document, released after the mass migration event had begun, clearly demonstrates the cultural impact of Merkel’s decision on German society. It states “We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples, as well as a different understanding of society and law. German security agencies are unable to deal with these imported security problems and the resulting reactions from the German population”. None of these issues, which someone in the Merkel advisory team must have foreseen, would have been likely if the migrants flowing into Germany in 2015 had been Greek and Spanish instead of Eritrean or Afghani.
Overall, the evidence and reasoning of Douglas Murray, which has been replicated and paraphrased in this article, demonstrates either great ineptitude on behalf of Angela Merkel; or calculated lying aimed at deceiving the German public. Either Merkel genuinely believed that her nation’s demography problem could be solved by the mass migration of largely unskilled young men from the third-world, in which case she is truly incompetent; or Merkel’s true reasoning differs from this espoused justification. If the latter is correct, and the primary reason Merkel thought it best to allow over a million unchecked immigrants into Germany more relates to ‘compassion’ or diversity for example, then the German Chancellor has willfully misled her own people. I’ll leave it to the German electorate to decide which is worse, and which is correct.