The Corner

Out of Europe

Allister Heath, editor of City AM, is calling for the architects of the euro to apologize to the people whose lives they have blighted. Good luck with that. As Heath knows, they’d much rather spend their time blaming markets, speculators, “Anglo-Saxons,” whatever, whomever.

And when it comes to the disruption that the single currency has brought, it’s no surprise that Heath was struck by this:

[T]he story that truly captures the imagination comes courtesy of New York University’s Development Research Institute. It highlights the influx of Portuguese immigrants to Angola – an economy that has been growing by over 10 per cent a year since peace broke out in 2002 – and Mozambique, in a dramatic reversal of roles between erstwhile colony and ex-imperial power. There was a time when poor Africans flocked to southern Europe to better their lives; the opposite is now happening. Five hundred years after Vasco de Gama first landed in Mozambique, impoverished Portuguese are turning up in droves, begging for work permits. Six years ago, Angola issued 156 visas to Portuguese migrants. In the most recent year for which data is available, that number had exploded to 23,787; 100,000 Portuguese have moved to Angola, four times more than the traffic in the opposite direction. Other studies have shown a brain drain of Portuguese to Brazil and of Spanish youngsters – especially skilled graduates – to Latin America.

Portuguese workers in Angola now send home more cash to their families than Portuguese workers based in London. For millions of young people, Europe appears in terminal decline, while parts of Africa have emerged as a new Eldorado. The Eurozealots thought the single currency would turn old Europe into a new superpower; instead, it has catastrophically impoverished tens of millions of ordinary folk. It is time for an apology.

As I said, good luck with that.


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