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Why Europe's economy needs immigration

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - 02:16

The growing anti-immigration sentiment which is spreading across parts of Europe could have serious implications for the region's economy. As Sonia Legg reports, Germany in particular needs them despite recent anti-immigration protests.

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It was the biggest protest yet by anti-Islamists in Germany. The new grassroots movement - known as PEGIDA - has clearly struck a chord with some - 25,000 took part in this march in Dresden. In other parts of Germany counter demonstrations - against PEGIDA - attracted more people. (SOUNDBITE) (German) ANTI-PEGIDA DEMONSTRATOR, JONAS STEIPE, SAYING: "The only thing I want is for all the PEGIDA demonstrators to really reflect on what they are constantly hearing. No hatred or anything, but simply to think it through." It's still a worrying development for a country which relies on immigration. And Germany's not alone there. Right-wing parties in the UK, Italy, Greece and France have been gaining support in recent years. There, the argument is often about immigrants taking jobs. That's not the case in Germany, says Christian Schulz, a senior economist at Berenberg Bank. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, SENIOR ECONOMIST, BERENBERG BANK, SAYING: "Germany already has an extremely tight labour market - unemployment is at record lows, companies have to rely on people coming in from the outside to provide skills in a whole range of sectors of the economy." The Paris attacks may further fuel anti-immigration sentiment. But Admiral Markets Darren Sinden says it would be a mistake for EU countries to pull up the drawbridge. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET RESEARCH AND CLIENT RELATIONS MANAGER, ADMIRAL MARKETS UK LIMITED, DARREN SINDEN, SAYING: "It's easy to lose sight of the benefits that immigration brings and heighten the concerns about lack of immigration but net net immigration is with us and will be with us for the foreseeable future until birthrates climb and demographic patterns even out across the EU." The German government remains firmly behind the EU principle of free mobility of labour. The British government isn't entirely happy about that - and is asking for a review. But many in the single currency know it's vital. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, SENIOR ECONOMIST, BERENBERG BANK, SAYING: "To make the euro zone work as a currency union you need mobility of labour. At the margins immigration needs to be looked at - there are some issues of integration which need to be looked at - and maybe it is a good thing to look at these things but overall immigration is very important and a positive factor for Germany and other countries." Multi-cultural Germany is doing very nicely. It's just balanced its federal budget a year earlier than planned and for the first time in almost half a century. Robust tax revenues and low interest rates are partly the reason. Maintaining that when birthrates are falling may not be easy without immigration.

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Why Europe's economy needs immigration

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - 02:16