Greece Rolls Out Baby Bonus to Slow Population Shrinkage, as It Declares Sea Wall to Curb Immigration
Chantal Da Silva, Newsweek, February 4, 2020
The Greek government has started rolling out what has been dubbed a “baby bonus” program in a bid to boost the country’s population numbers, offering families with newborns a €2,000 ($2,200) reward.
The bonus program, which came into force this year, seeks to help offset the projected shrinkage of Greece’s 10.7 million population, with the country’s numbers expected to significantly diminish in the decades to come if birthrates continue to decline, according to the European statistics office, Eurostat.
Greece’s new center-right government is so determined to boost population numbers that it is prepared to invest as much as €180m a year in the scheme, according to The Guardian.
Yet, as the Greek government seeks to boost population numbers, it has also announced new measures to deter immigration to the country, despite its concerns over a shrinking populace.
On Thursday, the country’s Athens-based Defense Ministry announced plans to install a floating wall in the Aegean Sea in an effort to deter sea crossings from Turkey.
The Defense Ministry put out a call for vendors for offers to build a “Floating Protection System,” which would be erected in the waters off the island of Lesbos, which has long been the gateway to Europe for many migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
Expected to be about 1.68 miles long and have a net-like makeup, the structure would be expected to over a foot-and-a-half above sea level and would have lights, making it visible at night, according to Reuters.
In its request, the Greek government said it would be willing to spend roughly €500,000 on construction for the project.
The defense minister compared the project to a cement and barbed-wire fence Greece put up in 2012 along its northern border with Turkey to prevent migrants and asylum seekers from crossing over there.
Plans for the sea barrier come as Greece continues to see high numbers of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees arriving on its islands.
Last year, 59,726 migrants, asylum seekers and refugees arrived on Greece’s shores, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).