The Scramble for Europe: Young Africa on its way to the Old Continent

Stephen Smith
Polity
2019

From the harrowing situation of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in rubber dinghies to the crisis on the US-Mexico border, mass migration is one of the most urgent issues facing our societies today. At the same time, viable solutions seem ever more remote, with the increasing polarization of public attitudes and political positions.

In this book, Stephen Smith focuses on ‘young Africa’ – 40 per cent of its population are under fifteen – anda dramatic demographic shift. Today, 510 million people live inside EU borders, and 1.25 billion people in Africa. In 2050, 450 million Europeans will face 2.5 billion Africans – five times their number. The demographics are implacable. The scramble for Europe will become as inexorable as the ‘scramble for Africa’ was at the end of the nineteenth century, when 275 million people lived north and only 100 million lived south of the Mediterranean. Then it was all about raw materials and national pride, now it is about young Africans seeking a better life on the Old Continent, the island of prosperity within their reach. If Africa’s migratory patterns follow the historic precedents set by other less developed parts of the world, in thirty years a quarter of Europe’s population will beAfro-Europeans. Addressingthe question of how Europe cancope with an influx of this magnitude, Smith argues for a path between the two extremes of today’s debate. He advocatesmigratory policies of ‘good neighbourhood’ equidistant from guilt-ridden self-denial and nativist egoism.

This sobering analysis of the migration challenges we now face will be essential reading for anyone concerned with the great social and political questions of our time.

book cover