are the subject of the International Herald Tribune’s In egalitarian Europe, a not-so-hidden world of squalor (via ¡No Pasarán!)
Across a Continent that prides itself on egalitarian values and generous welfare outlays, the poorest in society, many of them immigrants, live in conditions that a large swath of the population finds hard to imagine until fatal accidents catapult them into the headlines.
. . .
In the burned-out Parisian stairwells, Dutch squats, Italian camps and Portuguese slums, some of Europe’s greatest challenges have converged: the integration of a growing number of immigrants, rising housing prices and high unemployment.
The net inflow of legal immigrants into the 25 countries that make up the European Union today has more than doubled over the last decade, rising from 826,000 in 1993 to 2.1 million in 2003, according to the latest Eurostat figures. The desperate ambition of those in poverty-stricken developing countries to come to Europe has been powerfully illustrated in recent weeks when hundreds of Africans tried to climb razor-wire fences separating Morocco from two Spanish enclaves, and more than a dozen were killed in the process.
Meanwhile, European housing prices have risen by an average annual rate of 7 percent over the past five years, bolstering speculation, and joblessness hovers around the 9 percent mark in the EU as a whole.
Where all three factors come together, as in France or Italy, housing conditions of the poorest seem to be worst. Elsewhere, mitigating factors, like lower unemployment, as in Britain, or slack in the housing market, as in Germany, have limited the misery.
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