The European Union is supposed to be an international, political and economic organization that aims at further strengthening democracy in her member states and unifying the economies of European States. Because the European Union is a key player in the international community, she plays a great role in pioneering human rights, peace building, international trade, and humanitarian aid. Therefore, the EU and its member States deal with many social, political, and economic issues. One very important socio-political issue that can be easily overlooked is migration, and the United Kingdom and Spain are two member states that face gender migration issues.
Although, the United Kingdom and Spain are both members of the European Union, both States differ in certain areas. Take the United Kingdom for example,
“Year of EU entry: 1973
Capital city: London
Total area: 244 820 km²
Population: 61.7 million
Currency: pound sterling (£)
Schengen area: Not a member of Schengen”
The United Kingdom is made up of four nations; England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland and its capital is London. It is one of the few members of the European Union that do not use the Euro as their national currency, rather, the United Kingdom makes use of the pound sterling. According to the European Union website, the United Kingdom has a population of over 61 million people, and has been a member as early as 1973.
Spain, on the other hand, has a bigger land mass than the UK and has a smaller population of over 45 million people. Spain consists of just one nation, uses the Euro as its national currency, and has been a member of the EU since 1986.
“Year of EU entry: 1986
Capital city: Madrid
Total area: 504 782 km²
Population: 45.8 million
Currency: Member of the Eurozone since 1999 (€)
Schengen area: Member of the Schengen area since 1991”
It is also important to note that whereas Spain is a member of the Schengen area, the United Kingdom is not. EU members of the Schengen area can enter, travel, work, conduct business freely with other EU members of the Schengen area with one Schengen Visa document. So therefore a citizen of Germany or Hungary would not need any other visa documents to enter into Spain., but would need a visa from a United Kingdom embassy to enter into the England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
Members of the Schengen area allow flexible access to other States that are also members of the Schengen area. In comparison to Spain, the United Kingdom is intensely diverse with people migrating from all over the world for better chances of work and possibly earning a good living. Some of the major ethic groups that reside in the United Kingdom include, whites who make up roughly about 92.1% of the population, black 2%, Indian 1.8%, and Pakistan 1.3% and other minorities that make up 1.8% of the population. The most prominent language spoken in United Kingdom is English, however, other languages including Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Cornish.
Spain on the other hand has only two ethic groups, the Mediterranean and Nordic types. Languages spoken in Spain include Castillian Spanish with 74% of the population being familiar with the language, Catalan 17%, Galician &% and Basque 2%.
Also, employment, human rights, security and development are some of the policies facing migration related issues in the United Kingdom. According to Migration Policy Institute, employment opportunities that are available for immigrants sometimes implicate the population with poverty, inequality and social welfare. Migrants are always affected more than natives in issues that relate to the loss of employment. Human right and security are also limited but is gradually being an area of concern. Some domestic laws that apply to the policies also regard employment. Migrant workers must receive eligibility to work in their new settlements.
They receive minimum wage and long set work hours. Because the diversity in the Spanish culture is very thin, there is very limited migration, hence limited policies regarding immigration. However, because the work force that emerges from the immigrant population is much greater than that of those who reside in Spain. They are also more reluctant to public services, health care, welfare benefits etc, because the laws regarding immigration are very strict.
In addition, the United Kingdom consists of large range of residents who are foreign born. Just in the year 2010, there were 19 groups of foreign born people that consisted of more than 100,000 people. Most of them originated from African and middle eastern, Asian and other European countries. Percentage wise, foreign born people constitute 11.3% of the total population as of 2010. Many migrants make their way to Spain as well for better living conditions. About 6.4 million foreign born people reside in Spain, making up 13.8% of the total population.
However, as far as minorities go, in the United Kingdom, the Scots are the main minority with an estimated 5.1 million people which consisted of 8.7 percent of the population. Furthermore, according to a 2001 article written by David Owen and published by the University of Warwick, the total minority population in the United Kingdom was 4.6 million people and that made up 7.9 percent of the population. The largest group of people were South Asian and they accounted for 2 million people which was 3.5 percent of the population. The Black community consisted of 1.15 million people and this consisted mainly of Black Caribbean population.
Also, migrants who came to settle in the British tended to settle in London and other areas where industrialization was evident. Thus, the minority ethnic groups in the United Kingdom are concentrated in the Greater London, Nottingham, Manchester, among other areas. Spain on the other hand, has a much larger minority. According to the World Directory of Indigenous Minorities, Spanish minorities consist of minority groups include: Catalans 7 million (15.8%), Galicians 2.8 million (6.3%), Basques 1.2 million (2.7%), Roma/Gypsies 650,000–800,000 (1.5–1.8%), Ecuadoreans 479,978 (1.1%), Moroccans 468,797 (1.1%), Romanians 308,856 (0.71%), Colombians 268,144 (0.62%), Asians 176,290 (0.41%) and Jews 20,000 (0.05%). Other Latin Americans number 693,451 (1.6%) and other Africans 194,359 (0.45%) Immigration became an issue for Spain around 1999 due to their rapid growing industry and there was immigration from many EU States.
Also because of Spain’s developed and industrialized economy, there has been ample employment opportunities for immigrants. “New minorities work mostly in the service sector (59 per cent) and in agriculture (21 percent). Most Latin Americans and Asians are involved in the service sector, while 39 per cent of Africans are employed in agriculture, and 15 per cent of East Europeans work in construction.” In addition, a UK guardian newspaper article features statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Kingdom employment rate was found to be higher for male immigrants. This may partly be because the UK is one of few countries where the international student population is overrepresented.
By Uchechukwu Onwuzuruoha