Is the new European agenda on migration sufficient to take up the challenge of Mediterranean economic migration?

Published : Friday 06 November 2015
Macarena NUÑO, chef de projet
In May 2015, the European Commission presented its agenda regarding migration and expressed the need to implement a new, more European-oriented, approach. Following the “Five point-plan” of Mr Junker on immigration, the agenda is structured around four axes (reducing incentives to illegal migration, managing borders, implementing a strong common policy on asylum and a new policy on legal migration).

In this plan, the president of the European Commission states very clear facts: by 2060, the EU active population will decrease by 10% - that is 50 million people - while the number of retirees will reach up to 150 million. In order to overcome these economic and demographic challenges, the Commission recognises that “migration will be an increasingly significant factor to ensure the sustainability of our social welfare system and of the economic growth”. Therefore the EU needs migrants. To achieve this in a context of global competition, the Commission is willing to implement a more attractive legal framework to attract the skilled workers EU countries need.

Several options have been expressed. First of all, the revision of the two recently adopted directives, on students and researchers, showing their limits. The improvement of the EU Blue Card is also on the agenda, since it has not attracted enough high-skilled talented people; far from it. According to the Commission’s figures, only 10,000 documents were issued over the two years following its implementation. Besides, the Commission is willing to facilitate service provision by high-skilled foreign professionals, contribute to a better understanding of foreign qualifications and modernise its visa policy to make it more flexible. This broad programme must inevitably be carried out together with Member States, which decide on the number of migrant workers who can access their labour markets. Given the national crises going on in some countries, the rise of extremisms and restrictive national policies implemented towards migrants, negotiations will be tough. And yet, if the EU and its Member States want to restore their inclusive, innovative and dynamic economy, they must reach a compromise.

If we want the EU to become as attractive as other destinations such as the United States or Canada, we will have to go beyond a simple revision of the current legal framework. It would be advisable to implement a more attractive and secure ecosystem covering issues such as the continuity and portability of certain rights, brain circulation, access to dual nationality, recognition of political rights, etc. To do so, regular discussions with countries of origin as well as diaspora and migrants associations representatives are necessary.
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