7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Maximising the development potential of legal migration and mobility

Maximising the development potential of legal migration and mobility

Re-thinking EU-Africa cooperation for the benefit of countries of origin and destination, migrants, and employers

A day without migrants

debate
D1
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 -
09:30 to 10:45

Key points

• Disinformation in the debate about legal and illegal migration is fuelling the rise of right-wing populism and nationalism in some EU countries.

• The reduction in legal channels for migration is creating a market for irregular migration.

• More time, energy and resources must be devoted to working out legal channels for migration between the EU and Africa.

• There is a need for forward-looking migration policies covering the period before the migrants move right through to their integration in the country where they settle.

Synopsis

The debate focused on re-thinking EU-Africa cooperation for the benefit of both the countries of origin and destination and for migrants and employers. Around 4% of the EU population consists of third-country nationals, or nationals from countries outside the EU, which is a much lower figure than is popularly imagined.

Disinformation fed misconceptions, in turn fuelling the rise of right-wing populism and nationalism in some EU countries. The debate about the relocation of asylum-seekers from countries like Greece and Italy and a lack of solidarity within the EU, including the refusal of some countries to take in these asylum-seekers, made matters worse. This has had a negative impact on the political climate and reduced the political space in the EU for talk about legal migration.

EU countries have ageing populations and therefore a growing need for immigrants for their labour forces. Given that Africa is projected to have the world’s largest working-age population by 2034, it can help meet that need. It emerged from the debate that more emphasis on legal migration was urgently needed. One speaker said the reduction in legal channels for migration created a market for irregular migration and human trafficking, increasing insecurity in the EU. The same speaker called for forward-looking migration policies covering the period before the migrants move right through to their integration in the country of destination.

Channels for legal migration were discussed at the EU-Africa migration summit in 2015 in Valletta, Malta. There, EU and African leaders agreed on a migration action plan covering the following areas of cooperation: root causes of irregular migration, legal migration and mobility, protection and asylum, the fight against irregular migration, and the return and readmission of irregular migrants. Speakers stressed that the subject attracting the least attention was legal migration and mobility and noted that the political space to develop this had been shrinking. One view was that more time, energy and resources needed to be devoted to working out legal channels for migration between the EU and Africa.

One speaker recommended that countries put in place labour mobility schemes to set up mechanisms to seek profiles of migrants that can fill the gaps in the labour market and not just set numbers. Another idea was for a mechanism whereby qualifications obtained in the EU and Africa were mutually recognised. The affordability and accessibility of visas were also key to legal migration. Closing the doors to legal migration would lead to a rise in irregular migration, said one speaker.

Another speaker highlighted the need for safeguards to ensure that migrants are not abused and to help them end up in the formal economy with decent jobs and not in the black economy. The International Labour Organisation guidelines on fair recruitment and the World Employment Confederation’s fair recruitment code of conduct could both be promoted in this context. He also urged businesses to communicate positive messages about migration to the public and to workers.

Insight

Shifting to a positive narrative about migration is a big challenge but one that needs to be undertaken. Canada was pinpointed as a good model as it has advanced resettlement and integration programmes. However, there are many open questions as to how that can be transferred to the EU context.

Organised by

  • Moderator
    Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels
    Senior Lecturer in Migration and Politics
    University of Kent
  • Eugenio Ambrosi
    Regional Director
    IOM’s Regional Office for the European Economic Area, the EU and NATO
  • Ajay Kumar Bramdeo
    Head
    African Union Permanent Mission to the European Union and the ACP - Brussels Office
  • Laura Corrado
    Head of Unit - Legal Migration and Integration
    European Commission - DG for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship
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