Until very recently anyone who questioned the mantra that immigration into Europe is a good thing would find themselves branded a racist or worse, a far-right ideologue.

However, this perception is starting to change as the European Union continues to grapple with one of its thorniest problems, how to match the need to help the so-called frontline states of Italy, Greece and Spain without totally alienating these EU countries that resist taking in non-European migrants, most notably Poland and Hungary.

The European Pact on Migration and Asylum, presented by the European Commission on September 23, 2020, has helped concentrate minds. However, this is more about attempting to mould a common 27-state policy than about the policy aims and implications themselves, and it seems that the gulf between the countries that continue to support mass immigration on the grounds that it’s necessary to balance an ageing population and those that oppose it is as wide as ever.

A recent article in respected French daily Le Figaro has helped bring into the open the question of whether mass immigration is a good or bad prospect. One thing is sure, millions of sub-Saharan Africans want to move to Europe. So far, there has been just a trickle and Europe has responded with temporary, ill thought-out band-aid measures.

The central question is this: Will European countries have an honest and open debate about the desirability of perhaps 50 million predominantly male young Africans making their way to Europe in the next few years, or not? There is every indication that the question will not be answered at the Commission level but be met with more temporary fudges, such as opening more refugee camps.

The sociological implications of a massive influx of non-Europeans are immense and troubling, but there are many leaders in Europe who fail to see them or try to understand them.

Speaking in Morocco in December, Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, recognised that many Europeans are worried about mass immigration. But her answer is to provide more visas, so that large-scale legal migration is encouraged in order to deal with the inverted triangle of an ageing indigenous European population.

The inverted triangle of an ageing population does pose a problem, but it is an economic issue. The societal costs of trying to rectify the triangle with mass young male non-European immigration far outweigh it.

But at last, it is becoming respectable to talk about it.

FILE PHOTO: African migrants arrive in the Canary Islands in November