Europe invites the critics - Monocolumn | Monocle


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30 January 2013

Being fresh back in the UK from Canada, I feel like questioning the current European rhetoric regarding immigration and foreign workers. It was refreshing to be in Toronto and Thunder Bay, hearing local politicians say how the country should be working harder to attract more immigrants from abroad.

It’s not quite like that in Europe. It seems that everyone here is convinced that limiting immigration as much as possible is crucial for survival.

In my home country of Finland, like in the UK, it has been a big discussion topic for a good few years. But unlike the UK, how large-a-portion of the Finnish population are originally from other countries? Less than 6 per cent. You can’t call Finland a multicultural society, it’s not even close to it yet. Although at least now people don’t gather around you out of curiosity if you speak English like they would 10 years ago.

Currently Finland’s population density is about 17 people per sq km. So there should be plenty of space for immigrants too, unless all Finns need plots of land for gardens, saunas and huge forests to get a bit of fresh air in while walking their dogs.

Sometimes the anti-immigration attitude gets so absurd that it is on the verge of becoming amusing. There has been a suggestion in the UK to launch negative ad campaigns in Bulgaria and Romania to paint the nation in a bad light and prevent immigration. So I thought I’d share my tips on how to “anti-promote” other countries too.

Sweden has been trying to promote itself as the country that is known for its welfare, equality and openness. Despite this, there are strong anti-immigration sentiments. If Sweden wants to stop people mistakenly considering a move to the north they should start promoting the country’s long, cold, depressing Nordic nights that take place most of the year. And the northern lights? You know, they really rarely happen. It also shouldn’t bee too hard to get photos of rainy scenes of Swedish suburbia with a massive Ikea in the middle.

Finland – concentrate on depression. Almost one in 10 Finns is currently on antidepressants. And now also a big portion of pet dogs have started using them.

And if people still want to move to Finland try to make them use ferries from Stockholm and Tallinn instead of Finnair’s aeroplanes. These boats are the places where Finns cut loose – so much so that many don’t know if they’re coming from or already going back to Finland.

And for the UK it would probably help a lot to concentrate on the never-ending rain. But I have one suggestion more: maybe the UK should also start sending notorious British party-animal tourists who are more often seen in the Costa del Sol and Tenerife to Bulgaria and Romania. If that doesn’t put off potential immigrants, I don’t know what will.

Markus Hippi is a producer for Monocle 24.


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