We observed in Chapters 2 and 3 how European states were devolving power, sometimes to the extent that traditional distinctions between unitary and federal states seem less and less useful. We also observed that these moves were often, at least in part, a response to claims for autonomy or even independence made by minorities who feel they constitute a nation or even a race apart. But those who feel that they are somehow trapped in the wrong body politic are not the only minorities in Europe. The population of most, if not all, European countries is now made up not just of the descendants of those who lived there centuries ago but also of those who have arrived much more recently – and indeed are still arriving. Whether these minorities are distinctive through race or only ethnicity, their presence, and the fact that they are being joined by more immigrants every day – at a rate of well over 2 million per year from various sources – is the source of considerable anxiety and friction in many European countries. Migrants and minorities – no matter if they have been here for decades or even centuries – do not always find Europe as welcoming as they might have hoped. Indeed, they routinely encounter misunderstanding, mistrust, and sometimes outright hostility from the ethnic majorities whose states they share and of which they might even become citizens. This presents governments of all political stripes in Europe with a dilemma. Their majority populations, it seems clear, are anxious about, not to say hostile towards, any increase in immigration, particularly (though not exclusively) from developing countries and especially when those coming appear to be abusing rights to asylum and family reunification (which actually accounts for around half of all legal migration into Europe).
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