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Event Review

Population on the Move - NIDI and Population Europe Event on International Migration and Identity in Europe

Oct 10
  • Source: Population Europe
  • Source: Population Europe
  • Source: Population Europe

The Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), Population Europe and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) invited specialists and policy makers from all around Europe to Brussels. In the course of the symposium “Population on the move”, recent findings on issues regarding migration, citizenship and identity were presented and discussed. “Throughout history international migration played a key role in economic, social and cultural development.” With those words Chair Frans Willekens (NIDI) opened the symposium.

Advantage or disadvantage

According to Willekens, immigration is “not an efficient way to combat ageing and population decline”. But immigration would lead to increasing ethnic and cultural diversity, he said. “Some see the growing diversity as a threat to national identity and social cohesion. Others see cultural diversity as an asset.” To make sure that this advantage does not turn into a disadvantage, integration needs to be the outcome of a process of mutual adaptation, Willekens added.

The role of Policy

The first keynote by Hein de Haas (International Migration Institute at Oxford University) focused on international migration. Europe has become a continent of immigration and “despite policy restrictions there has been an increase of migration,” said de Haas. This contradiction indicates the need for a broader focus in order to understand the effectiveness of migration policy. “Policies have often been reactive rather than proactive”. Hein de Haas recommends a long-term view and more focus on the social and economic outcomes for the countries of origin. He also pointed out that better data is needed.

Second generation Migrants

In her keynote Helga de Valk (NIDI) focused on the life of migrants.She particularly presented findings on the lives of the second generation. 20 to 25 percent of the school aged population already is of immigrant origin and “more and more people will have migration backgrounds,” de Valk said. Regarding this, education is the determinant factor for the lives of the second generation. “School careers play a crucial role, because school is the place where people from different origins meet.” She suggests starting school at an early age, spending more hours in school, consciously mixing the schools, and focusing on the teachers. “They play a very important role,” de Valk pointed out. She also called the transition from school to work crucial for integration.

The European duty

Leila Kurki from the EESC gave a concluding statement. She focused on the duties of European politics. Among other things, according to Kurki, they should be transparent and try to avoid “brain drain”. Like Helga de Valk, Kurki also mentioned education and integration as fundamental points. “Education and integration go hand in hand.”