New Report Lays Out Future of Migration in Europe
A functioning migration system in Europe must treat sending and transit countries as genuine partners, according to a new report lead written by Migration Policy Institute President Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Senior European Policy Fellow Gregory A. Maniatis.
Gaining from Migration: Towards a New Mobility System is the culmination of more than three years of comprehensive research by a group of internationally renowned policy experts. Published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it will be released tomorrow in Lisbon during the European Union's Ministerial Conference on Legal Migration. The Portuguese government has made a comprehensive approach to migration management a top policy priority for its EU Presidency, and MPI is assisting the Presidency with its work on migration.
The report notes that EU policymakers should forego restrictive rhetoric and instead create more legal channels and flexible options for immigrants’ entry and stay, because doing so will attract workers in industries that most need them. At the same time, and in recognition of the fact that immigration cannot succeed unless immigrants integrate successfully, European countries must become more flexible in giving immigrants access to their labor markets and political systems.
Taking these steps, according to the report, would not only make the European Union more economically competitive in the global marketplace, they would generate public confidence in policymakers’ ability to govern on migration.
Recommendations for providing immigrants with early access to the labor force and fostering effective economic migration include:
- Create an Integrated Migration-Monitoring System to collect and process information on inflows and outflows of non-EU nationals so that only those migrants and employers who follow the rules can continue to access the mobility system.
- Issue multiuse, multiannual work permits to facilitate flexible migration patterns that meet short-term EU labor shortages and mitigate brain drain for sending countries.
- Entitle foreign students in EU universities to remain for up to two years after graduation to work anywhere in the European Union.
- Harmonize Member States’ economic immigration admissions policies and grant the right of effective free movement and work in every country for defined categories of skilled workers.
Recommendations for enabling participation in social and political life include the following:
- Grant permanent residence permits at the outset to immigrants meeting certain critical workforce needs and their immediate families, and establish clear paths to citizenship.
- Ease access to participation in established political structures for all immigrants (political parties, trade unions, and civic organizations).
- Grant local voting rights after two years to all immigrants on long-term visas.
- Engage diaspora organizations in decision making and capacity building to facilitate integration of immigrants in EU communities.
Recommendations for linking migration and development policies through partnerships for mobility management include the following:
- Establish bilateral agreements between EU Member States and sending countries for recruitment of low-skilled migrants and multiannual fixed contracts for migrant professionals. These arrangements would promote circular migration, build skills, and enable remittances without crippling social services in sending countries.
- Continue to develop EU Member State guidelines for recruitment of highly skilled workers (e.g., health professionals) from developing countries.
- Lower the costs of remittances. European banks should work with financial institutions in developing countries to provide financial services to poor rural communities.
- Reform the organizational structures for migration management at the national and EU levels to promote better mechanisms for communications and consensus-building across ministries and directorates, and to strengthen development inputs on policymaking.
- Provide substantial support—financial and technical—to migrant organizations and networks so that they can be engaged more meaningfully in guiding development projects.
Gaining from Migration: Towards a New Mobility System was initiated and co-managed (together with the OECD Development Centre) by the Athens Migration Policy Initiative, which was established and is led by the Migration Policy Institute.