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Event Review

Population Europe Event - The Stranger Among Us

Immigration Policies and Social Cohesion in Europe
Oct 30

Current European migration policies are not responding to mid- and long-term demographic developments, but instead are being shaped by short-term political agendas in the member states. This was one of the conclusions from a Population Europe Event about migration and migration policy in Rome, organised in cooperation with Sapienza University of Rome and Neodemos under the patronage of the Senate of the Republic of Italy.

For Linda Lanzillotta, Vice President of the Senate of the Republic, migration is a “key issue for social cohesion and economy”. In the framework of migration she said: “The lack of stability around Europe has a direct impact on Europe.”

Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, Senator of the Republic of Italy and one of the chairs of the event, explained that due to demographic change, Europe will lose around 100 million people of working age in the next 35 years and therefore should be interested in attracting people from outside Europe. As a migration destination it is already competing with other strong economies like the US, China and India. “And unlike Europe, these countries all have common migration policies”, said Dalla Zuanna.

From a century of population growth to a century of population ageing


Jean Christophe Dumont (Head of International Migration Division, Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD) pointed out that overall there is an increase in highly educated migrants: “Those new migrants tend to be mostly young, female, highly educated and active”, said Dumont. But according to his data, 50% of them are either unemployed or not working at their level of qualification.
One major problem he does see is the lack of long-term policies: “Policy makers only see the next five years.” But migration, demographic change and population ageing are long-term issues: “We are moving from a century of population growth to a century of population ageing."

Christopher Hein, Director of the Italian Council for Refugees, agreed with him, insofar as he does see a demand for increased EU migration policies. “There is no reply to the demographic challenges in EU policies. It is dictated by very short-term needs of labour market requirements without having a dimension of a long-term planning of the composition of the population of the 28 Member states.”

Anachronistic, antagonistic and not sustainable


Ahmet Icduygu (Professor of International Relations at Koç University, Istanbul) said: “It is very important to deal politically with the question of burden sharing and burden shifting in regard to irregular migration flows.” He gave an overview on migrants’ deaths, pathways to irregularity and the demography of illegal immigrants. But, he emphasized, that overall in the EU, clandestine entries are the least frequent case: “Less than 10% of all entries happen illegally, in the US it is 40%.”

Ferrucio Pastore, Director of the International and European Forum on Migration Research, described the common migration framework currently in place in Europe as “anachronistic, antagonistic and not sustainable”. The freedom of movement act for EU Nationals, the arrangements for labour migrants and the Dublin III Regulation for refugees are three main European migration regimes. “But currently we see an increase in mixed arrivals”, said Pastore, “and most problems we are facing with these are created by gaps and overlaps between these regimes”. 

Panel Debate


The event was followed by a panel debate, where Laura Corrado as a representative of the European Commission, agreed, that “politicians tend to look at the very short term”. The Commission’s aim is not only to work more on long-term policies, but also cooperate more with interrelated departments. “We need more coordination between economic migration on the one side and economic and social policies on the other side.”
Corrado also said that even the best policies cannot always foresee geopolitical developments, like the crisis in Syria. She promoted the idea of Humanitarian Visas as a good instrument to respond to such crises – “but so far, most member states do not support this idea.”

Don Flynn (PICUM - Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants) said that issues of migration policies in the member states and the failures of European policies are connected. “Many problems actually come down to the member states because they do act in their own interests.”

Mario Morcone (Italian Ministry of Interior) spoke about the role of Italy, but also about European duties and the Dublin III regulation: “If we want Europe to be the Europe of everyone, if we want to share a vision, than we cannot escape the discussion about the Dublin III regulation. Asylum seekers, once they have been legally admitted to a European country, should enjoy the same freedom of movement rights as EU nationals.”

Vinicio Ongini (Italian Ministry of Education), who is an expert for educational aspects, pointed out that when it comes to second-generation migrants in the Italian school system, the language barrier is still the biggest burden. Generally, “the level of knowledge is directly proportional to actions. Therefore we need to further investin the education of migrants and their children.”

Gustavo De Santis  (Neodemos) discussed  further details. He said: “Even in these times of crisis we have more non-asylum migration than asylum migration.” De Santis also expressed some critical thoughts on the rise of bureaucracy in migration policies. “The idea of controlling migration has improved more and more in the last years. We cannot think of anything else, but maybe we should."

Massimo Livi Bacci (Former Senator of the Republic of Italy) concluded the debate. He said: “Migration is a politically unpleasant subject”, and pointed out that, “Migration is not only social, it’s also cultural and economic”. Livi Bacci also pleaded for a unified European labour market: “We cannot have 28 different criteria for admitting or easing the circulation of citizens.”