The Legal "Welcome" to Those Coming from Outside

Depending on where you live, your nationality and your financial status, you will find it easier or harder to move to and work in a European country (or from one to another).

If you have at least 100,000 dollars in the bank you will experience few problems in obtaining a visa or a residents permit in most countries. Many countries have stopped issuing visas to foreign nationals who are already within their borders. Take the example of someone who is visiting their family on a tourist visa and wishes to remain; this person must then leave the country and apply for a new visa, with all the costs and stresses of separation this would entail. Strict regulations have been placed on transport companies to ensure that they carry only passengers with the right to enter a particular country. A company in breach of the regulations is liable to be fined and must cover the cost of repatriating the passengers concerned.

What is the difference between a Visa and American Express?

Unless you work for a large transnational company, you will have massive problems in obtaining permission to live and work in any of the countries within the European Economic Area (EEA). But nationals of those countries are allowed to move relatively freely from one to another. Although regulations do differ in nuance, the basic ­challenges remain similar. If you want to stay in one of these countries legally you will need to bear in mind some of the following:

• A residence permit. This will be granted if you have already obtained a work permit.

• An employment contract with a recognised business. Without this you cannot obtain a work permit.

• The work permit will only be granted if the employer can prove that nobody in the host population could do the job.

• Official procedures and delays in gaining work permits dissuade many employers from even attempting to recruit third country nationals.

• If, in the meantime, you start working before being granted official permission you risk immediate expulsion from the country.

• Some crimes can only be committed by foreigners. Legal regulations change and it will be your responsibility to ensure that you conform to them.

How many people come to stay and work in the country where you live?

Exceptions to the rule do exist. In Central and Eastern Europe, and especially in Germany, permanent settlement migration in recent years has been associated with specific ethnic groups "returning" to a homeland where they have been granted an automatic right of settlement. Amongst those involved are the German Aussiedler, Ingrian Finns, Bulgarian Turks, Pontian Greeks and Romanian Magyars.

And What Are Our Responses to All of This?

We have looked at some of the aspects, considered some of the history and highlighted some of the forces which are acting within our societies. At one and the same time we are being pushed closer together and being pulled further apart. The face and faces of Europe have changed dramatically during the past decades and in today's multicultural societies we face greater stresses and strains than before.

A Model to Adapt

At the 1993 symposium which prepared the "all different - all equal" Campaign recent research was presented which casts some new light on the challenges we face. This research carried out in Belgium suggests that it may be possible to break down the population into four main groups:

A. people who are already aware of the problems of racism and more or less actively involved in anti-racist activities (about 10%)

B. those people, who are tolerant, but do not (yet) engage in anti-racist activities (about 40%)

C. those who have racist tendencies, but do not commit racist acts (about 40%)

D. racists who openly show their attitude (about 10%)

What is perhaps representative for Belgium is not necessarily applicable across the length and breadth of Europe, but anti-racist activists (from other countries) who have seen these figures do agree that the general proportions are similar to their own estimates. They suggest that greater percentages of young people are present in the groups A and D.

Do you think this model fits in your country?

Whether or not the proportions are the same, you may use it as a model for analysing the situation in the country where you live. It may also be useful in deciding on strategies for targeting particular groups when campaigning or devising educational approaches. Are we trying to reinforce active tolerance amongst the people in group B, are we going to show open opposition to those in group D? Are we going to work with those in group A to question some of our own assumptions? etc.

To give an example, La Republica newspaper of 19 May 1995 reports research into prejudice amongst 2500 young people in Italy. The survey was conducted by the Instituto di richerche sociali di Milano (social research institute of Milan) and they divide the results into four groups as well:

A. "xenofobi" - (xenophobic, those afraid of or against foreigners) -12.3%

B. "instabili" - (unstable) - 31.6%

C. "neutrali" - (neutral) - 35.2%

D. "antixenofobi" - (anti-xenophobic) - 20.9%

These four groups are perhaps comparable with those suggested by the research from Belgium, but it is important to see that the terminology is completely different.

Racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia and intolerance take very different forms across Europe and it may be that for your situation you should find other descriptions or analyses for the different groups. We shall look at the challenges involved in defining these terms in the next chapter.

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