Deaths that exceed births might sound like science fiction, but they are now Europe's reality. It just happened. During 2015, 5.1 million babies were born in the EU, while 5.2 million persons died, meaning that the EU for the first time in modern history recorded a negative natural change in its population. The numbers come from Eurostat (the statistical office of the European Union), which since 1961 has been counting Europe's population. It is official.
There is, however, another surprising number: the European population increased overall from 508.3 million to 510.1 million. Have you guessed why? The immigrant population increased, by about two million in one year, while the native European population was shrinking. It is the substitution of a population. Europe has lost the will to maintain or grow its population. The situation is as demographically as seismic as during the Great Plague of the 14th Century.
This shift is what the British demographer David Coleman described in his study, "Immigration and Ethnic Change in Low-Fertility Countries: A Third Demographic Transition." Europe's suicidal birth rate, coupled with migrants who multiply faster, will transform European culture. The declining fertility rate of native Europeans coincides, in fact, with the institutionalization of Islam in Europe and the "re-Islamization" of its Muslims.
In 2015, Portugal recorded the second-lowest birth rate in the European Union (8.3 per 1,000 inhabitants) and negative natural growth of -2.2 per 1,000 inhabitants. Which EU country had the lowest birth rate? Italy. Since the "baby boom" of the 1960s, in the country famous for its large families, the birth rate has more halved. In 2015, the number of births fell to 485,000, fewer than in any other year since the modern Italy was formed in 1861.
Eastern Europe now has "the largest population loss in modern history", while Germany overtook Japan by having the world's lowest birth rate, when averaged over past five years. In Germany and Italy, the decreases were particularly dramatic, down -2.3% and -2.7% respectively.
Some businesses are no longer even interested in European markets. Kimberly-Clark, which makes Huggies diapers, has pulled out of most of Europe. The market is simply not cost-effective. Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble, which produces Pampers diapers, has been investing in the business of the future: diapers for old people.
Europe is becoming gray; you can feel all the sadness of a world that has consumed itself. In 2008, the countries of the European Union saw the birth of 5,469,000 children. Five years later, there were nearly half a million fewer, 5,075,000 -- a decrease of 7%. Fertility rates have not only fallen in countries with aching economies, such as Greece, but also in countries such as Norway, which sailed through the financial crisis.
As Lord Sacks recently said, "falling birth rates could spell the end of the West". Europe, as it is aging, no longer renews its generations, and instead welcomes massive numbers of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, who are going to replace the native Europeans, and who are bringing cultures with radically different values about sex, science, political power, culture, economy and the relation between God and man.
Liberals and secularists tend to dismiss the importance of demographic and cultural issues. That is why the most important warnings come from some Christian leaders. The first to denounce this dramatic trend was a great Italian missionary, Father Piero Gheddo, who explained that, due to falling birth rates and religious apathy, "Islam would sooner rather than later conquer the majority in Europe". He was followed by others, such as Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, who leads the Eastern Catholics aligned with the Vatican. Rai warned that "Islam will conquer Europe by faith and birth rate". A similar warning just came from yet another cardinal, Raymond Leo Burke.
In one generation from now, Europe will be unrecognizable. People in Europe now largely seem to feel that the identity of their civilization is threatened primarily by a frivolous libertarianism, an ideology under the guise of freedom, that wants to deconstruct all the ties that bind man to his family, his parentage, his work, his history, his religion, his language, his nation, his freedom. It seems to come from an inertia that does not care if Europe succeeds or succumbs, if our civilization disappears, drowned by ethnic chaos, or is overrun by a new religion from the desert.
As a paper in the Washington Quarterly explains, the fatal meeting between Europe's falling birth rates and rise of Islam has already had significant consequences: Europe has turned into an incubator of terrorism; formed a new poisonous anti-Semitism; seen a political shift to the far right; undergone the biggest crisis in European authoritarian unity and witnessed a refocusing of foreign policy since Europe's withdrawal from the Middle East.
Demographic suicide is not only experienced; it appears to be wanted. The xenophile European bourgeoisie, which today controls politics and the media, seem imbued with a snobbish and masochistic racism. They have turned against the values of their own Judeo-Christian culture and combined it with a hallucinatory, romanticized view of the values of other cultures. The sad paradox is that Europeans are now importing young people in large numbers from the Middle East to compensate for their lifestyle choices.
An agnostic and sterile continent -- deprived of its gods and children because it banished them -- will have no strength to fight or to assimilate a civilization of the zealous and the young. The failure to counter the coming transformation seems to come down on the side of Islam. Is what we are seeing the last days of summer?
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.