Home Sociology Integration Processes and Policies in Europe
From 1974 to the End of the 1980s: The Oil Crisis and Migration Control
The oil crisis of 1973–1974 had considerable impact on the economic landscape of Europe. The crisis gave impetus to economic restructuring, sharply reducing the need for labour (Boyle, Halfacree & Robinson 1998). During this period, belief in unbridled economic growth diminished. Switzerland and Sweden were the first countries to invoke a migration stop, respectively, in 1970 and 1972. Others followed: Germany in 1973 and the Benelux and France in 1974. Policies aiming to control and reduce migration, however, transformed rather than stopped migration. The number of foreign residents kept rising, due to a change in European migration systems from circular to chain migration and the related natural growth of migrant populations. Migrants from non-European countries who had come under labour recruitment schemes increasingly settled permanently, as returning to their home country for long periods now entailed a significant risk of losing their residence permit. Many migrants started to bring their families to Europe. Although governments initially tried to limit family migration, this met little success (Castles et al. 2014; Hansen 2003). After all, family reunification of migrant workers was considered a fundamental right, anchored in article 19 of the European Social Charter of 1961.
The composition of the residing migrant population also changed during this period. Whereas in the first period, European migrants were most numerous, the share of non-European migrant populations significantly grew during the second period. In Sweden, for example, 40 % of the foreign born were non-European by 1999, compared to only 7.6 % in 1970 (Goldscheider et al. 2008). This reflected the continuing immigration and natural growth of these populations. But it was also the result of a larger extent of return migration among Southern European populations, given the increased quality of life and employment opportunities in Southern Europe (Barou 2006). In countries on the other side of the Mediterranean, population pressure continued to be substantial, due to high fertility and unemployment rates. During this period, the number of Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yugoslavian foreigners in Europe diminished (except in Switzerland, where the number of Portuguese and Yugoslavians grew), and a significant increase was observed in the number of Turks and North Africans across Europe (Bade 2003).
After the migration stop, countries increasingly controlled entries of foreigners, and migration became an important topic in national political and public debates (Bonifazi 2008; see also Doomernik & Bruquetas in this volume). Increasing unemployment levels due to the economic recession fuelled hostility, racism, and xenophobia towards certain “visible” groups of resident migrants. In several European countries, violent anti-foreigners incidents occurred. In France, for example, Le Pen's Front National acquired considerable political support for its simple message that '2 million unemployed = 2 million immigrants too many' (Boyle et al. 1998, 27). During this period, however, awareness also grew that immigrant populations were here to stay. As a result, the need for adequate integration policies became apparent, and such policies slowly started to develop (see Doomernik and Bruquetas in this volume).
In this same phase, numbers of asylum applications started to rise in Europe (especially in the 1980s and after the fall of the Berlin Wall; Hansen 2003). Between the early 1970s and the end of the twentieth century the number of asylum applications in the EU, at that time 15 member states, increased from 15,000 to 300,000 annually (Hatton 2004). Germany was the largest recipient of asylum applications in Europe in all periods (Table 3.2). From the 1980s onwards, significant increases were also observed in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK. The different attractiveness of particular European countries over time is related to historical events that have induced new refugee flows. The dramatic increase in asylum applications from within Europe in the early 1990s, for example, accompanied the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Yugoslavian wars (Hatton 2004, see also further on in this chapter).
The restrictions on the entrance of foreigners into North-Western Europe also had another effect. From the mid-1980s onwards, migration flows increasingly diverted towards Southern Europe, especially gaining momentum in the 1990s.
Table 3.2 Asylum applications to the EU-15 by destination country, 1970–1999 (thousands)
Source: Hatton (2004, 10). The numbers in Hatton (2004) are based on UNCHR (2001, Tables I.2, II.2, III.2, IV.2, VI.4, and VI.5)
Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain had long been emigration countries. As a result, they did not dispose of well-developed immigration legislation and entrance control systems. Furthermore, these countries were experiencing economic growth and falling birth rates, resulting in labour shortages (Castles et al. 2014). The jobs available were often irregular ones, characterized by unfavourable labour conditions and low pay, making them unattractive to the local population. Southern Europe thus became an attractive destination for non-European migrants, especially those from North Africa, Latin America, Asia, and—after the fall of the Iron Curtain—Eastern Europe (Castles et al. 2014).
Besides migration flows from non-European countries, the favourable economic conditions in Southern Europe also resulted in return migration among those who had moved to Northern Europe. Spain, for example, registered the return of 451,000 citizens during this period, of which 94 % had resided in another EU country (Barou 2006). Portugal, in contrast, experienced return migration from its former colonies, where fierce and violent struggles for independence were under way. Greece was the last country to transition from an emigration into an immigration country. Until 1973, some 1 million Greeks were working abroad (Bade 2003). Half of them returned in the period after the oil crisis (ibid.).
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