Europe remains unprepared for a massive surge in immigration from Africa, according to a top European Union official.
Antonio Tajani, the president of the EU parliament, said overcrowding, poverty and war and will likely push “millions” of people from Africa to Europe in the coming decades. Ahead of the annual EU-Africa summit this week, Tajani called for improved coordination among EU members and a “Marshall Plan” for Africa to help stem the flow of migrants.
“Without a strategy we will have terrorism, illegal immigration, instability,” he said, “There are too many voices on Libya, on Africa.”
Immigration remains remains a potent issue in European politics, even as migrant flows have subsided from the height of the refugee crisis in 2015. Right-wing and immigration skeptic parties have enjoyed a surge in popularity in response to decisions by EU leaders, particularly German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to admit more than 1 million refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East since 2015.
Although the EU has since managed to reduce the flow of immigrants via the land route through Turkey, illegal immigration from Africa across the Mediterranean Sea is surging. The number of African migrants arriving via the Libya to Italy sea crossing is up 40 percent from 2016, EU officials said this summer. Most of the immigrants are coming from West African states such as Senegal, Guinea and Nigeria in order to escape economic hardship and overcrowding.
Demographic trends in Africa suggest the flow of migrants will intensify in the coming years. The continent-wide population is expected to double from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion by 2050, with most of the growth concentrated in Africa’s least-developed countries, according to UN
Africa’s pending population boom takes on additional significance for Europe in light of the wave of migrants and asylum seekers that have arrived in the continent in recent years. Many European countries have already exhausted their capacity to absorb the flow of immigrants, forcing even centrist, pro-immigration leaders to posed by continued migration from Africa and Asia.