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Better policies for people on the move

This event discussed the impact and integration of migrants as well as national and European immigration policy challenges.


Alessandra Venturini

Deputy Director Migration Policy Center, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (EUI),

Manu Bhardwaj

Vice President for Research and Insights, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth,

Matthias Oel

Director for Migration, Mobility and Innovation, European Commission, DG HOME,

Arjen Leerkes

Associate Professor, Sociology Department, Erasmus University Rotterdam,

Eva Degler

Policy analyst, Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate, OECD,

video recording

This event has been made possible with the kind support of the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth.

event material

Report: People on the move: migration and mobility in the European Union by Uuriintuya Batsaikhan, Zsolt Darvas and Inês Gonçalves Raposo

Presentation by Zsolt Darvas


Session 1: Impact and integration of migrants in the European Union

The impact of migration is as positive as the success of integration policies. There is no “one-size fits all” policy - transferring best practices across countries is in itself rather challenging due to institutional, cultural and economic differences. Nonetheless, there are ten points that can be withdrawn from the discussion:

  1. A European identity document for migrants and refugees linked to a pan-european registry would tackle the current problem of unidentified migration.
  2. Early access to integration measures has been shown to have a lasting positive effect. Therefore, early intervention through e.g. language training should be prioritized.
  3. Linguistic policies should be tailored to the linguistic distances between immigrant languages and the host country and involve not only the migrant worker but all his or her surrounding community.
  4. The employers are often left aside from the integration discussion. Providing support to employers in tackling obstacles such as complex bureaucracy can facilitate hiring of migrants.
  5. Labour market integration is an investment without an immediate payoff. Having a long-term perspective is crucial to avoid wasted potential.
  6. Legal acceptance and later labour market integration is highly conditional on the type for immigration - from asylum, subsidiary protection to humanitarian reasons. The “gate of entry gap” needs to be addressed through tailoring integration policies to the different types of migrants.
  7. Provide sensitivity training to the native-born, focusing on issues such as non-verbal communication, can improve openness and reception of immigrants.
  8. Changing mindsets is no easy task. Acknowledging that European citizens have behind them centuries of years of net emigration and only recently the figures have changed may be a first step for lining perceptions.
  9. Financial literacy policies play an important role in fostering financial inclusion of migrants.
  10. Partnerships for the development of origin third-countries are key.

Events notes by Inês Goncalves Raposo, Research Assistant. 

Session 2: National and European immigration policy challenges

While the term migration in the EU naturally encompasses both intra-EU mobility as well as the movement of individuals to/from third countries, the current debate mainly focuses on the inflow of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Against this background, the discussion aimed at challenges faced by regions, member states and the EU institutions and a potential way forward to manage the consequences of the recent inflows and to create a more resilient system for the future. Broadly, the key areas discussed comprise Schengen/Dublin regulation, integration and third country cooperation.

With Schengen and Dublin regulation effectively suspended the system needs to be redesigned
• Create legal possibilities for migration to EU (e.g. sponsorships, circular migration)
• Provide sufficient resources and infrastructure to safeguard external borders and avoid intra-EU border controls; reforms are made (Frontex, EURODAC), but additional measures/instruments are necessary with great potential for technology
• Redistribution of migrants (voluntarily or mandatory?) requires solidarity of all member states
• Increase efficiency of asylum application processes and returns of individuals
• Improve coordination (information flows, procurement, resources) between member states and EU as well as clearly define responsibilities and chain of command
Integration requires EU-level, national and regional strategies and funding
• Ensure migrants and refugees have legal (digital?) ID which facilitates access to labour market and financial inclusion
• Teach language and vocational skills demanded by the labour market in cooperation with private sector
• Foster exchange of best practices within EU/globally; lack of national experience?
• Identify potential areas of EU funding; communicate available facilities and allow easy access; flexible allocation of resources depending on changes in demands
Cooperation with EU neighbourhood and international community
• Tackle causes of displacement and mass migration; no effective short-term solutions, but long-term efforts and investment necessary
• Collaborate with United Nations to develop comprehensive strategies with all countries

Events notes by David Pichler, Research Assistant.