Policy brief

The global race for talent: Europe's migration challenge

In an ageing world with demographic and economic imbalances, the number of international migrants is likely to rise during the twenty-first century. T

Publishing date
04 March 2014
Rainer Münz

In an ageing world with demographic and economic imbalances, the number of international migrants is likely to rise during the twenty-first century. The geography of migration flows is changing, however. Mobile people will be increasingly attracted by faster-growing economies. Therefore, some traditional destinations in western Europe will face stronger competition for skilled labour – not least from countries like China where the working-age population will shrink after 2020. At the same time, the sentiment in many European receiving societies is turning against migration and intra-European Union mobility.

In the short run, Europe needs more labour mobility between EU member states given excessively high unemployment reported in some regions, while others face a shortage of skills. In the long run this will not be sufficient to close gaps in European labour markets. But many Europeans are not ready to accept more international migrants, and give their support to political parties with restrictive agendas. This creates at least three challenges. First: organising political majorities in favour of more proactive migration policies. Second: making Europe more attractive for mobile people with talent and skills. Third: moving away from unilateral migration policies towards negotiated win-win solutions aiming at reducing the costs of, and enhancing the welfare gains from, migration and remittances

About the authors

  • Rainer Münz

    Rainer Münz is visiting professor at the DPP and an expert in Demography and international migration. He has been working as an academic, in the private sector and as government adviser.

    Between 2015 and 2019 he was Adviser on Migration and Demography at the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), the in-house think tank advising European Commission President J.C. Juncker during his time in office. In 2020-21 he worked at the Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (JRC-KCMD) of the European Commission in Ispra, Italy.

    Prior to joining the European Commission, Rainer Münz was – between 2005 and 2015 – Head of Research and Development at Erste Group, a Central European retail bank headquartered in Vienna. He also worked as Senior Fellow at the European think tank Bruegel (Brussels), the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) and at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI, Washington DC).

    Until 2004, Rainer Münz had an academic career as researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1980-1992, and at the Department of Mathematics of Finance/ TU Vienna, 2002-2004, as well as a tenured university professor at Humboldt University, Berlin, 1993-2003. He also was visiting professor at the Universities of Bamberg, UC Berkeley, AU Cairo, Frankfurt/M., HU Jerusalem, Klagenfurt, St. Gallen (HSG), Vienna and Zurich.

    In 2000-01, Rainer Münz was member of the German commission on immigration reform (Suessmuth commission). Between 2008 and 2010, he was Member of the high level “Reflection Group Horizon 2020-2030” of the European Council (Gonzales commission). Between 2015 and 2019, he was chair of IOM's Migration Advisory Board. Currently he is one of the chairs of a TWG of KNOMAD, the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (since 2013). He also is member of the Experts Council on Integration advising the Austrian government.

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