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Thursday, 05 November 2015 18:36

Am I a threat to the German way of life?

Written by
Biergarten
Photo: Peter Alfred Hess; Licence: CC BY 2.0

In the face of increasing calls for limits to be placed on EU migrants in her home country, E&M's Frances Jackson, a Brit based in Germany, wonders if she too is a burden on the state.

For the last four years, I have been living in a country that is not my own.  I wasn't born here.  I didn't grow up speaking the language.  And if you stopped me on the street, I probably wouldn't – apart from a provisional UK driving licence that expires in 2017* – even have any proper ID on me, as I worry about losing my passport, so prefer not to carry it around every day.   

Don't tell anybody, but I am one of those EU migrants you've heard so much about.  I came to Germany – in part, at least – for the cheap higher education and have stayed firmly put since then, going as far as to secure myself a PhD scholarship in the process.

As Europe witnesses the largest wave of mass migration since the end of the Second World War, and anti-foreigner rhetoric continues to rise around us, creeping steadily into the political mainstream, I have been giving a lot of thought to my own status as a sort of "economic migrant".  Does my presence pose a threat to the German way of life?  Am I putting unsustainable pressure on the country's infrastructure?  And if not, why not?

women past
Photo: Paul Townsend (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0

In the past women have done a variety of jobs: from working in factories during war periods to steamming tobacco leaves.
In this picture Florence Brown, the first female Lord Major of Bristol, returns to her old job for a few minutes (June 1963).

 

Women's employment is one of those evergreen issues in the agenda of the old continent. Besides dusty stereotypes that still relegate women to few sectors of care and other social needs, the problem of women's employment has been worsened by the recent economic crisis. E&M author Nicoletta Enria approaches the topic and unveils European trends when it comes to women's education, wages and their presence in decision-making positions.

In the past couple of years, issues regarding gender equality have entered mainstream discourse with cries for gender parity by the likes of American actress Patricia Arquette in her Oscar acceptance speech and British actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign calling for men to join the battle. Although proposals for gender equality in the economic, political and cultural spheres seem to have become popular again, how far has this actually gone in providing concrete progress for women? With a backdrop of financial instability bringing forth a rise in unemployment and austerity measures, what is the European job market looking like for women nowadays?

The European Commission stated in its 2014 Report on Equality between Men and Women that gender equality is not only a fundamental right but is also essential for economic growth. Needless to say, the financial crisis affected a whole generation, resulting in a sharp rise in unemployment, especially for young people. However, the proportion of inactive young women remains double that of young men. Austerity measures in countries such as Greece have led to cuts in public, health and care sectors — all sectors which normally employ women. This is leading to a rise in women unemployment and a rise in unpaid care work for women, with currently 45% of Greek women living below the poverty threshold. This also casts a light on the problem of occupational segregation, which is when your gender defines what ranking or job you get based on gender stereotypes deeply engrained in our society.

Monday, 13 April 2015 00:00

Pegida and "the Golden Age"

Written by

VignettaSaxon

 

Alice Baruffato on the theme of Pegida

 

In her monthly series of cartoons, E&M's Alice Baruffato now focuses on the Pegida movement in Germany. 


For sure, the far right movement holds the headlines and has conquered a firm place in the debate about European integration. But it also seems to have to face some internal problems and a general lack of supporters, as the anti-Pegida and pro-Europe movements are shouting out loud their ideas in many German cities. 

Who is this "full-blood" Saxon ancestor fighting against? An imaginary enemy, finding himself alone on what he thinks is a battle field in the contemporary Saxony/Germany...

vespa.jpj

 

Photo: Paul; Licence: CC BY 2.0

Italian vespa in Durham, UK

 

Immigration is a hot topic in the UK and the current political campaign is no exception. In the run-up to the general election, scheduled for 7 May 2015, politicians from different wings are getting tougher on EU migrants. Focusing mainly on migrants coming from Southern Europe and, especially, on the Italian community living in the UK, E&M's author Nicoletta Enria takes us through some of the scenarios about how this election could affect EU migrants and their lives in a country where they don't have the right to vote.

 

From the time of the Roman Empire to Ellis Island and now taking to the streets of London, Italians have always been known to migrate and make their presence known throughout the world. As youth unemployment in Italy soars, hitting a staggering 43.9% in November 2014, young Italians cannot help but feel anger, disappointment and resentment towards a system that offers them no hope and begin to look for a brighter future abroad. This swarm of educated youngsters, the "escaping brains" as they are known in Italy due to the fact that many of them have university degrees, are now predominantly settling in the UK. Officially, there are said to be 600 thousand Italians today in the UK, of which 60% are under the age of 35. What is life like for all these hopeful young Italians in the UK and how will the potential outcomes of the UK General Elections in May affect them?

 

In Italy, partially due to the role of the press in glorifying the UK and Germany, young Italians are brought up believing that all hope lies in migrating there. More and more hopeful Italians are travelling to the UK and finding themselves living in squalid, cheap hostels to avoid transport costs and expensive rent. Paid minimum wage, sometimes even less, they are ideal for low-income jobs as they provide big companies with cheap labour. In their dream for a better life not just Italian migrants, but also Portuguese, Spanish and Greek youngsters are facing this similar unexpected economic hardship, in an attempt to escape the financial crisis in their home countries. There is also a large community of young Italians studying at British boarding schools and universities in an attempt to profit from one of the best education systems in Europe and broaden their opportunities to obtain jobs in more places around the world. With a growing anti-immigration discourse in the UK, seen in articles such as this one by the Sun referring to Portuguese, Italian, Greek and Spanish migrants as "PIGS [that] are here to stay", integration is a privilege that not all of these young migrants have. Despite this, plenty of Italian migrants I have spoken to, myself included, thoroughly enjoy living the UK and feel fully integrated in their home away from home.

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