Europe's low white birth rate, coupled with faster multiplying migrants, will change fundamentally what we take to mean by European culture and society. The altered population mix has far-reaching implications for education, housing, welfare, labour, the arts and everything in between. It could have a critical impact on foreign policy: a study was submitted to the US Air Force on how America's relationship with Europe might evolve. Yet EU officials admit that these issues are not receiving the attention they deserve.
Jerome Vignon, the director for employment and social affairs at the European Commission, said that the focus of those running the EU had been on asylum seekers and the control of migration rather than the integration of those already in the bloc. "It has certainly been underestimated - there is a general rhetoric that social integration of migrants should be given as much importance as monitoring the inflow of migrants." But, he said, the rhetoric had rarely led to policy.
The increased pace has made a nonsense of previous forecasts. In 2004 the EU thought its population would decline by 16 million by 2050. Now it thinks it will increase by 10 million by 2060. Britain is expected to become the most populous EU country by 2060, with 77 million inhabitants. Right now it has 20 million fewer people than Germany. Italy's population was expected to fall precipitously; now it is predicted to stay flat.