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As EU Member States Undertake New Legal Migration Partnerships, Track Record for Earlier Pilot Projects Suggests Need for Caution & Adjustments
Press Release
Thursday, February 14, 2019

As EU Member States Undertake New Legal Migration Partnerships, Track Record for Earlier Pilot Projects Suggests Need for Caution & Adjustments

WASHINGTON — Partnerships that migrant-destination countries develop with origin and transit countries to offer would-be migrants temporary training or work placements at arrival hold promise, including encouraging skills development that is useful upon return and potentially serving as an alternative to illegal migration.

Yet as EU member states begin to embark on a new set of migration pilot projects with countries in Africa—an objective enshrined more broadly in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration—they would do well to assess the mixed results of earlier bilateral partnerships, the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration cautions in a new report.

When have earlier migration partnerships succeeded? And when unsuccessful, what were the reasons for failure? The report, Exploring New Legal Migration Pathways: Lessons from Pilot Projects, assesses the outcomes of several bilateral pilot projects involving countries in Europe, Africa and the Asia Pacific, and offers policy recommendations to improve the chances of success going forward.

“It has proved difficult to align the interests of destination and origin countries, strike a balance between mobility and development considerations and find viable options for sharing costs that do not deter governments, employers or migrants from participating,” writes Kate Hooper, an MPI policy analyst.

The report provides several recommendations for how policymakers should consider labor market needs and development goals in order to implement a successful pilot project. These partnerships should:

  • Be formed with countries that are willing and able to manage migration and their labor markets
  • Target labor-market sectors at origin and destination that have complementary supplies and needs for workers
  • Provide high-quality technical job and language training that both meet employer needs and build essential skills that can benefit the labor migrants in the long run
  • Balance employers’ desire to extend the employment relationship with origin-country development goals.

“Governments have funded an array of migration pilot projects over the years, but very few have ultimately been incorporated into their broader immigration policy or labor-policy planning,” Hooper writes. “If these programs are to live up to the high expectations that surround them, policymakers must be prepared to set concrete objectives for them and weigh these design considerations to develop a clear path forward for scaling up programs that succeed.”

Read the report here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/exploring-new-legal-migration-pathways-lessons-pilot-projects.

This report, supported with a grant from the Open Society European Policy Institute, launches a new series from MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration. Focused on building migration systems for a new age of economic competitiveness, the series will be published over the coming weeks and months. Reports will be collected here: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/transatlantic-council-migration/building-migration-systems-competitiveness

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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at local, national and international levels. MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration is a unique deliberative body that examines vital policy issues and informs migration policymaking processes across the Atlantic community.