Against the backdrop of a looming Swiss referendum on whether to limit the number of foreign arrivals, the World Economic Forum has given much thought to the issue of migration: is it beneficial, and should it be limited?This content was published on January 24, 2014 - 19:26
Davos residents will be among those Swiss citizens voting on February 9 with the issue also sparking much fierce debate throughout Europe and further afield. Several international speakers have added their voice to the debate in Davos this week.
“The feeling of being overcrowded in Switzerland is a result of economic success,” said Martin Schulz, president of the European parliament, referring to a build-up of foreign firms in Switzerland. “In other countries the refusal of immigrants is a result of economic failure.”
“In times of prosperity, countries are begging for immigrants. In times of crisis they say immigrants are taking our jobs,” summarised former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Some thought was also dedicated to the rise of rightwing political campaigns across Europe, using anti-immigration messages to win votes. José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, admitted concerns about the upcoming European parliament elections.
“I expect the nationalistic, and sometimes xenophobic, parties to rise. That’s a challenge, that’s a danger,” he said. “But they will not reach a mass where they will become a problem. They will not be able to block legislation.”
British Prime Minister Davis Cameron drew applause from Davos delegates when he defended plans to restrict migration of new EU members and to make it harder for them to claim social benefits.
“It is right to move [from one EU country to another] to find work; it is not right to move to claim benefits,” he said.
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