Allister Heath, CityAM:
There was a time when poor Africans flocked to southern Europe to better their lives; the opposite is now happening. Five hundred years after Vasco de Gama first landed in Mozambique, impoverished Portuguese are turning up in droves, begging for work permits. Six years ago, Angola issued 156 visas to Portuguese migrants. In the most recent year for which data is available, that number had exploded to 23,787; 100,000 Portuguese have moved to Angola, four times more than the traffic in the opposite direction. Other studies have shown a brain drain of Portuguese to Brazil and of Spanish youngsters – especially skilled graduates – to Latin America.
Portuguese workers in Angola now send home more cash to their families than Portuguese workers based in London. For millions of young people, Europe appears in terminal decline, while parts of Africa have emerged as a new Eldorado. The Eurozealots thought the single currency would turn old Europe into a new superpower; instead, it has catastrophically impoverished tens of millions of ordinary folk.
Whilst Heath’s angle with this article is that of blaming the single currency, it is the above that is most interesting to me. How things change. After everyone flocking to Europe to find success and prosperity, the reverse is now happening. The state of Greece and Spain in particular is horrific, and with little sign of a turnaround coming any time soon. Regardless of whether the single currency is to blame for the woes, it is tragic that youth unemployment is now over 50% in both those countries.
It also highlights how, in the grand scheme of things, Britain has been hit pretty lightly when compared to the plights of others in the eurozone.