BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe’s economy will strengthen if countries invest in efforts to cope with the refugee crisis, the president of the European Central Bank told EU lawmakers on Thursday.
The tide of migrants, the biggest movement of people in Europe since World War Two, will deeply change the social texture of the continent, but “if properly managed, if there are investments in this change, the Union and the euro area will emerge stronger in due time”, Mario Draghi told the economic and monetary affairs committee of the European Parliament in Brussels.
Last week, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said it expected some 3 million asylum seekers to arrive in the European Union by 2017, and predicted a boost for the EU’s economic output in the longer term if migrants were integrated into the workforce.
Draghi said public investments were required to deal with the crisis, but that it was “premature to say by how much governments’ deficits will have to expand in order to invest in this development”.
“We do not have a completed analysis on this problem. We are working on it,” he told the lawmakers.
The European Commission is expected next week to release a first analysis of the cost of the crisis in affected countries in Europe, which may grant fiscal leeway to euro zone states that can prove that their public finances have been hit by the migrant crisis.
In his address to the committee, Draghi also praised EU leaders’ efforts to deal with the crisis. “It is evident that our leaders have shown both humanity and vision in coping with this problem,” he said.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Kevin Liffey