Henryk M. Broder
September 10, 2015
BERLIN â€" â€œRefugees are (people) just like you and me,â€ says Lutheran theologian Margot Kässmann. â€œRefugees are not a burden but embody a huge chance,â€ especially for smaller cities, says Oliver Junk, mayor of Goslar. Germany Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble says that responding to the migrant crisis, the national budget will not be overstretched: â€œWe can handle the recent developments,â€ he assures us.
If all this is true then what are people talking about? Are there really problems surrounding refugees that need to be dealt with, or are we just imagining them? Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is of the opinion that communication is key in this situation and that European solidarity will have to be â€œspelled outâ€ to some. â€œAgreeing on fair levels of refugee take-in across Europe is part of that.â€
But that alone is not enough for Angela Merkel. â€œIt is our duty to ensure that peace will become a reality again in affected regions. But it is also important, based on our own historical experience, to give protection and help to these people, whose lives are threatened.â€
A military question
If it really were â€œour dutyâ€ to ensure that â€œpeace will become a reality again in affected regionsâ€ then the Federal Armed Forces should be sent forth. But not to â€œconquer the hearts of the peopleâ€ as they did in Afghanistan, but to end the bloodshed in Syria by force of arms.
Seeing as the Armed Forces are not able to do so, and the Bundestag would never authorize such a mandate, we will just have to concentrate on giving â€œprotection and help to these people, whose lives are threatened.â€ That is, if they havenâ€™t drowned in the Mediterranean or suffocated inside a truck.
If the chancellor really meant what she said, she would have instructed her minister of defense to erect tent camps at the Greek-Macedonian and Macedonian-Serbian borders to provide the refugees with the most necessary of items, such as food, medication and a temporary roof over their heads.
But it would be much more effective if the Armed Forces established an air bridge to Germany. Because, despite all this talk about â€œdistributing refugees fairly across Europe,â€ Germany will have to bear the brunt of the burden that is the refugee crisis. You cannot redirect the masses of refugees coming to Europe, just as it is impossible to change the course of a river after the winter thaw.
At the Macedonia/Serbia border â€" Photo: Juanlu y Jessica engerundi
And what do they even mean by â€œfair distribution"? Fair for whom? At least 18 of the 28 European Union member states do not want to take in refugees. They do not feel compelled to do so, neither legally nor morally. How is Steinmeier going to force them to? Is he thinking of sending the cavalry in? The refugees for their part did not give up everything and risk their lives to wind up being deported to Bulgaria or Romania. They know exactly why they prefer Germany, Sweden, Austria or the Netherlands. And you cannot hold it against them.
Conversely, you shouldnâ€™t overestimate the welcome given to refugees in ethnically homogenous countries. The Polish are very hospitable but only towards â€œguests.â€ They do not have cosmopolitan experiences like other parts of Europe, and cultivate their traditions in quite an old-fashioned manner.
Debates, such as the ones held in Germany, about integration, headscarf-wearing female teachers or Islam lessons in schools are just as unthinkable in Poland as gay marriage rights would be. The Baltic States are of a similar disposition. If someone had told these states prior to being accepted into the EU that they would have to radically alter their national and cultural identity in order to be accepted into the European Club, they probably would have preferred to stay outside.
Germany, however, sees this as its opportunity to rehabilitate itself, morally and economically. A kind of live cell therapy for society and the economy. You have plenty of references being made to â€œour own historical experienceâ€ on the one hand, which is supported by odd comparisons such as â€œbut we took in millions of displaced people from the East!â€
At the same time, you have others with a cost-benefit attitude that is as calculating as the policies of the companies that move their production to countries with low-wage economies. The only difference in this case is that it is not the jobs that are exported but the employees that are imported.
â€œThe migratory intentions of people ... could be used to channel them into a regular immigration and integration program for the German job market," says the Green Party spokesperson for integration and migration, Katrin Göring-Eckardt. "The economy demands more qualified employees and we rely on 300,000 to 500,000 immigrants per year to secure our prosperity.â€
A new kind of colonialism
What she is â€œspelling outâ€ is the flipside to the right-wing argument that foreigners are taking away jobs from Germans. If we werenâ€™t â€œreliantâ€ on immigrants â€œto secure our prosperity and pensions,â€ as former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder recently wrote, we wouldnâ€™t even give a second thought as to whether refugees should stay in their home countries or come to us. Isnâ€™t that in itself a form of colonialism with a humane façade?
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel also views the refugees as an â€œopportunity for our country.â€ Because â€œwe are a country that in the years to come will lose a lot of workers due to the fact that we, thank God, live longer but also have fewer children.â€ And it is this demographic gap that the refugees are supposed to fill.
It is possible that this scheme will pay off. It is possible that Germany will become a multicultural, multiethnical country in which language, origin and skin color donâ€™t matter. Unfortunately, however, politically motivated population experiments tend to fail more often than not.
Which is why we shouldnâ€™t overestimate the helpfulness being displayed towards refugees. To organize â€œwelcomeâ€ parties or hand out donated clothes is one thing. To accept permanent responsibility is another.
Die Welt ("The World") is a German daily founded in Hamburg in 1946, and currently owned by the Axel Springer AG company, Europe's largest publishing house. Now based in Berlin, Die Welt is sold in more than 130 countries. A Sunday edition called Welt am Sonntag has been published since 1948.
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Mark Zuckerberg boasted that his U.S. tech giant will begin a hiring spree in Europe to build his massive "Metaverse." Touted as an opportunity for Europe, the plans could poach precious tech talent from European tech companies.
October 25, 2021
PARIS — Facebook's decision to recruit 10,000 people across the European Union might be branded as a vote of confidence in the strength of Europe's tech industry. But some European companies, which are already struggling to fill highly-skilled roles such as software developers and data scientists, are worried that the tech giant might make it even harder to find the workers that power their businesses.
Facebook's new European staff will work as part of its so-called "metaverse," the company's ambitious plan to venture beyond its current core business of connected social apps.
Shortage of French developers
Since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his more maximalist vision of Facebook in July, the concept of the metaverse has quickly become a buzzword in technology and business circles. Essentially a sci-fi inspired augmented reality world, the metaverse will allow people to interact through hardware like augmented reality (AR) glasses that Zuckerberg believes will eventually be as ubiquitous as smartphones.
The ambition to build what promoters claim will be the successor to the mobile internet comes with a significant investment, including multiplying the 10% of the company's 60,000-strong workforce currently based in Europe. The move has been welcomed by some as a potential booster for the continent's tech market.
Eight out of 10 French software companies say they can't find enough workers.
And yet the enthusiasm isn't shared by everyone. In France, company leaders worry that Facebook's five-year recruiting plan will dilute an already limited talent pool, with eight out of 10 French software companies already having difficulties finding staff, daily Les Echos reports.
The profile of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg displayed on a smartphone
Teleworking changes the math
There is currently a shortage of nearly 10,000 computer engineers in France, with developers being the most sought-after, according to a recent study by Numéum, the main employers' consortium of the country's digital sector.
Facebook has said its recruiters will target nations including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ireland, without mentioning specific numbers in any country. But the French software sector, which has so far managed to retain 59% of its workforce, fears that its highly skilled and relatively affordable young talent will be fertile recruiting grounds — especially since the pandemic has ushered in a new era of teleworking.
Facebook's plan to build its metaverse comes at a time when the nearly $1-trillion company faces its biggest scandal in years over damning internal documents leaked by a whistleblower, as well as mounting antitrust scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators. Still, as the sincerity of Zuckerberg's quest is underscored by news that the pivot might also come with a new company name, European software companies might want to start thinking about how to keep their talent in this universe.
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France's top business daily, Les Echos covers domestic and international economic, financial and markets news. Founded in 1908, the newspaper has been the property of French luxury good conglomerate LVMH (Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton) since 2007.
The Handelsblatt ("Commerce Paper") is a leading German-language business daily published in DÃ¼sseldorf. It was founded in 1946 and is currently owned by Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt.
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