Financial industry leaders and policy experts addressed the thorny issue of migration in Europe after the Paris attacks during the Weathering the Global Storms: Perils and Possibilities panel discussion at CME Group’s 8th annual Global Financial Leadership Conference.
Nouriel Roubini, chairman and co-founder of Roubini Global Economics, pointed out that Europe’s economy benefits from migration in the long-term, though addressing integration and public apprehension remains challenging.
“The issue becomes even if out of a million you have five of them or 10 of them or one of them ends up being a terrorist, and attacks like in Paris, then the reaction, gut reaction of course is panic,” Roubini said.
However, Roubini noted military and diplomatic tactics are only part of the solution and that there must always be an economic aspect to any plan aimed at solving migration issues.
In addition, Roubini noted the economic downturn in Europe further alienates even European citizens, raising the risk of violence. “As we know, maybe one of these attackers in Paris may have come from Syria, but some of them were just French or Belgian citizens, people who have been there living forever that are completely disaffected,” he said.
Global powers like the U.S., Russia and China must also elevate their levels of cooperation in the name of improved global stability. “Russia doesn’t want instability,” Roubini explained. “They don’t care about Assad… they have one naval base outside of Russia and it is in Syria and they want to keep it.”
BlackRock Vice Chairman Philipp Hildebrand pointed out that answers to the issue go beyond Europe. “This is the defining challenge of our age and in the end it will only be dealt with if the European countries come together and Europe can act as Europe together with a broader global approach,” he said.
Kevin Kajiwara, managing director of Teneo Intelligence, said the makeup of the EU itself poses a challenge given the “wildly divergent capabilities” of member countries to effectively absorb migrants and refugees. He cited Greece, which is struggling with serious economic challenges while geography makes it a “funnel point” for migration. “Even before Paris obviously we were seeing the pressure points of the migration issue,” he said.
And with winter in Europe on the way, Kajiwara warned need policymakers to act fast. “The next graphic images of failed immigration policy won’t be of a terrorist attack, but of refugees – children and old people – dying in the cold on the border between Greece and the Balkans.”
Contributing writer: John Davis