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Immigration & asylum in the EU

Asylum and immigration are truly pan-European issues. Most EU states cut back on primary immigration in the 1970s, but are now affected by the rise in asylum-seekers. Given the EU's ageing population, is a return to selective immigration inevitable?

By Ben Hall   June 2000

Europe’s history has been shaped by migration. For centuries, merchants, craftsmen and artists crossed the continent to practice their trades or start new lives. Millions emigrated from Europe, first to the colonies and later to the Americas and the Antipodes. Europe also has a long history of forced migration: from the expulsion of the Jews from Spain to the population shifts in southeast Europe caused by the many wars between the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires.

Large-scale immigration into western Europe is more recent. From 1960 to 1973, the number of foreign workers in western Europe doubled from 3 to…

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