Friday, 16 October 2015

Something worth haggling over.

From the BBC:

EU states have approved an action plan for Turkey, which it is hoped will ease the flow of migrants to Europe.

Nearly 600,000 migrants have reached the EU by sea so far this year, many of them travelling from Turkey to Greece before seeking to head north. Turkey made a number of demands in exchange for helping to stem the flow…

Turkey had also asked for €3bn (£2.2bn, $3.4bn) in aid, something German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU states were considering.

1. From Turkey's point of view, they have to hold out for at least as much as it costs to put up tents and camps for all these people, something the Turks are apparently very good at. The short term cost is knowable, the long term cost could be much lower or zero, depending on how well the people integrate.

2. From European countries' point of view (unless you are insane like Angela Merkel), each 'asylum seeker' has a known short term cost for food and accommodation, but the long term cost is unknowable. Some of them will integrate, work hard and contribute to society (thus being a benefit rather than a cost) but an unknown number will be terrorists, criminals or slackers. It is very difficult to estimate the overall cost of the last three categories, and you can't put a price on 'social cohesion'.

3. Suffice to say, the price Turkey needs to be paid to keep one person is much lower than the (potential) cost to European countries of one such person. As long as the price paid is somewhere between those two, then both parties to the deal have made a profit.

4. So we do the two calculations and I don't think that Turkey is being overly greedy:

a) There are about two million people in their camps. £2.2 billion divided by 2 million is only £1,100 per person, which doesn't seem like much to me, even if it's payable yearly not just a one-off.

b) From the UK's point of view, let's assume one-quarter of the 600,000 trying to get to Europe end up here = 150,000 and we have to pay a quarter of the £2.2 billion cost, that's £3.700 each. That's a lot, lot cheaper than processing an asylum claim. That's a tiny fraction of what it costs us if somebody turns out to be a terrorist, criminal or slacker.

It cost £2 million to get rid of Abu Qatada and pay his family welfare. There only need to be a few dozen bad apples among our 150,000 and that's burned straight through our one-quarter of £2.2 billion.

Yes, we will lose a few genuine hard workers who have no interest in stirring up tensions, but so what?

Looking at it this way, if I were Turkey, I'd hold out for a bit more, a bit like Colonel Gaddafi tried (and failed).


Bayard said...

"Yes, we will lose a few genuine hard workers who have no interest in stirring up tensions, but so what?"

I thought the UK government was recruiting those directly from the refugee camps.

Antisthenes said...

The EU has negotiated a wonderful deal with Turkey. They will pay bribery money for Turkey to keep some 1/2 millions immigrants from moving northwards which they cannot as the resources and means needed to do so Turkey does not possess. Yes fences and more border guards will help but they will still get through or just go another way back to the boats from Libya and the like.

In exchange visa restriction for Turks will be lifted which means 76 million Turks can on mass if they like move legally and settle in the Shengan area. Some of course eventually moving on to the UK. Of course 76 million will not move but will the numbers be the same or even in excess of the current ones we are experiencing? I do not know but the possibility exists and still other immigrants will continue to find ways to enter.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, are we?

Anti, like you, I don't like that second bit about lifting visa restrictions, but on the whole, the Turks are fairly decent people (from my limited experience)

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anti it's "en masse" not "on mass"

mombers said...

What about all of the evidence that immigrants provide a positive net impact and are essential to avoid the bankruptcy of the old age social security system? It's particularly bad in Germany, they are on track to lose 20 million people and are already struggling with labour shortages.
Of course LVT will solve this as their will be no unfunded liabilities and it will also be more feasible for people to have children under Citizens' income, but in the world we live in now, without immigration we need to accept much higher levels of confiscation of working people's private property and pensioner poverty, although more of the former as the gerontocracy will keep on voting in people who offer the biggest handouts

Anonymous said...

A fundamental difficulty with foreign policy. Do you try and encourage development and business across all nations and accept that you might get a smaller share of the global pie. Or do you encourage assorted despots to buy your guns and bling and keep their people living in comparative poverty, this being good for your economy and bad for theirs.

Shades of opinion in between are allowed but votes at home is what counts, and forget about the global pie expanding to make everyone well-off - it won't. We can try razor wire, bribery and cutting off the Internet and satellite telly but the genie is out the bottle - so all Cameron has is a temporary fix - but a week is a long time etc etc. Either way we will end up handing over wealth, but votes are what count and to a politician their price does not matter. So, knock up some fences and keep some wars going - you know it makes sense.

Bayard said...

Mark, I can't recall where I heard it, but, apparently, the figure that the government was bandying about for Syrian refugees being allowed into the country was going to be mainly taken up by Syrians arriving directly from refugee camps in Turkey, rather than letting in those who'd trekked all the way across Europe to Calais. Which suggest to me that a certain amount of cherry-picking will be going on and people like doctors and nurses will be given priority.

A, they said that about the Romanians. In fact some figures given for the number of Romanians about to descend on the UK were higher than the population of Romania. Given what a small proportion of Syrian refugees actually try to get to the UK and given that these people are leaving behind absolutely nothing, then an even smaller proportion of Turks are going to leave their homeland to settle here, especially when most of the Turks who live in Europe live in Germany.

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, I know the Germans and they do over egg this "age pyramid" pudding a bit. If you get the right sort of immigrants, then clearly it is of massive benefit. hence why West Germany did so well post 1945, they got all the ambitious East Germans etc. But if you go to Germany today and see all the Africans and Arabs hanging round on street corners… (yes of course LVT would have pre-empted this,, we know that).

R, yes, knock up some fences (which never really work), bribe the Turkish government, but let's stop the stupid wars and try and make the global pie bigger - we Brits will get more than our fair share of the larger global pie.

B, agreed, as per usual, you are always one step ahead :-)

DBC Reed said...

Exactly how do we do so well out of globalisation? Just exporting production jobs abroad surely.Avon cosmetics moved its entire factory set-up to Poland, giving as an excuse that all the rest of the entire UK cosmetics industry had gone already.
We should be trying to keep as much industry in Britain as possible hein?
Being on the fringiest fringe of the anti-market crew in the last referendum, we were constantly being told that the Common Market gave the combined benefits of keeping rock bottom Asian workers out of the picture production-pay-wise while providing a large enough market to be largely self-sufficient in goods and services so we, as Fortress Europe, wouldn't have to import.Mosley, the leading British theorist on the Fortress Europe project ( to be perfectly fair) saw a problem in the European self sufficiency caper and proposed including large chunks of Africa in Europe. (I think he was worried about sources of uranium but my memory's not that good.)
Jumping ship on Europe and engaging in competition with cheap World labour(and cheap land) is not an attractive prospect.But the creepy public schoolboys with their sense of entitlement will prevail.

The Stigler said...


"What about all of the evidence that immigrants provide a positive net impact and are essential to avoid the bankruptcy of the old age social security system? It's particularly bad in Germany, they are on track to lose 20 million people and are already struggling with labour shortages."

How does that work out when you're talking about people of different skills? I know some Indian computer programmers living here and they're very much net contributors (high earners, good health, no kids) but I'm not sure you could say that about a low-skilled Eritrean.

James Higham said...

The long term cost is indeed unknowable. Time to stop all this madness and human tragedy.

Bayard said...

TS, what it really boils down to is why are we so incapable of processing immigrants in a timely fashion so as to sort the refugees from the asylum seekers from the economic migrants from the feckless who are looking for a life on benefits? It can only be four things: not enough staff processing the migrants, too many bureaucrats controlling those staff and stopping them working effectively, too much red tape, not enough effort by the staff themselves or some combination of the above.

The Stigler said...


Because it's a complicated, laborious process, even when you take away the state being inefficient. It's much cheaper to pay Turkey to look after them.

Bayard said...

But that only takes account of the Syrians. It is not as if we didn't have a problem processing migrants before Syria blew up. If it's a laborious process, why not put more labour onto it? Better than employing people to "facilitate" and "coordinate".

DBC Reed said...

By the looks of it, the Syrians coming over with people smugglers are quite well-off or at least middle-class to be able to afford the smugglers' charges for extended families.The poor people can't afford to travel so far and end up in the camps.Cameron seems to want to help these. But the Germans have this very unBritish idea that you can employ the other resourceful people and make money on them not only for their employers but for the country as well. This, British business knows is impossible, which is why they employ their own people at skinflint wages and have to have a Labour Government top up wages with Tax credits.By contrast the Conservative Party increases minimum wages by government diktat.Commies!

The Stigler said...


More people means more money. Mark's spot on with this - it's cheaper to just give people money not to come. It's nearly always best to avoid spending money hiring bureaucrats and to spend it shifting incentives.

Bayard said...

"it's cheaper to just give people money not to come."

That worked so well with Ethelred the Unready, didn't it? We would end up paying Danegeld on steroids to every poor country in the world - "give us lots of dosh or we will throw all our poor and unemployed at your borders"