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Migration Policy Institute Podcasts

MPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide.

How Will the Pandemic Reshape Public Health for Migrants?

Posted in Immigrant Integration, International Migration, European Migration, Migration Policy Institute Europe by Migration Policy Institute on September 22nd, 2021

The COVID-19 public-health crisis exacerbated longstanding migrant vulnerabilities ranging from heightened exposure to infection to disproportionate barriers in accessing health services. However, the pandemic also triggered innovations in migration and health policy that may ultimately improve conditions for some migrants—including regularization, increased health-care benefits, and increased use of digital tools to improve health literacy and information provision. The acute understanding that public health requires coverage for the entire community has renewed interest in tackling issues faced by marginalized populations.

With COVID-19 likely to significantly reshape health-care systems in Europe and worldwide, there is a window of opportunity to test new strategies to tackle longstanding migrant health disparities, and ensure that structural changes accommodate the complex needs of diverse populations. What lessons can be learned from strategies that arose during the pandemic and can they inform more inclusive health care post-pandemic? This webinar features experts and policymakers assessing the most promising strategies to ensure migrant health after the pandemic, as well as the related challenges and opportunities. 

Speakers highlight key findings from the ApartTogether study about the impact of the pandemic on migrants, reflect on the implications of the public-health crisis for migrant health, examine practical strategies that countries such as Portugal have taken, and discuss the most pressing challenges and issues facing migrants in European public-health systems today. This webinar is part of the Integration Futures Working Group initiative supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.  A related report from the project — Healing the Gap: Building Inclusive Public-Health and Migrant Integration Systems in Europe — also addresses some of the topics raised on this webinar. 

Opening More Avenues for Protection for Refugees

Posted in Immigrant Integration, Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Response, International Migration, European Migration by Migration Policy Institute on September 15th, 2021

As of mid-2020, more than 20 million refugees were displaced to another country and under the mandate of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. While some may eventually return to their countries of origin or integrate locally into their host community, for the most at risk, resettlement remains a critical tool to secure legal status and access to fundamental rights in a third country. However, the number of resettlement places made available remains far below the level needed and plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This global scarcity in resettlement places has been paralleled by innovation. States have shown creativity in designing resettlement programs and in growing access to protection via complementary pathways, including educational and employment ones. The Three-Year Strategy (2019–2021) on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways, launched following the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees in 2018, aims to achieve more resettlement opportunities for refugees, as well as better access for refugees to complementary pathways. To support the goals of the Three-Year Strategy, the Sustainable Resettlement and Complementary Pathways Initiative (CRISP), led by UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), provides support to states and key stakeholders to establish, expand, or renew resettlement programs and advance complementary pathways of admission.

This Migration Policy Institute Europe webinar marked the launch of a report that sets out a series of recommendations for how UNHCR, national governments, civil society, and other partners can most effectively support the growth of resettlement and complementary pathways in the years ahead. The webinar highlighted the recommendations developed by MPI Europe in collaboration with the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub showcased in the report, which was commissioned by UNHCR with CRISP support.

EU Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration: Switching Perspectives?

Many countries around the globe are grappling with policy questions surrounding the return of irregular migrants and asylum seekers whose claims have been denied. In Europe, policymakers have long been concerned about low return rates. And discussions on how to increase the number of returns (including voluntary ones), while conducting them in a humane way, and achieving sustainable reintegration are high on the European Union (EU) agenda.

In April, the European Commission took a step toward the creation of a common EU return system, releasing its first Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration. The strategy aims to increase the number of voluntary returns, but also to improve EU Member States’ coordination on their respective Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programs and make reintegration in origin countries more sustainable. To achieve these objectives, European policymakers need to secure cooperation with migrants’ countries of origin—an often-neglected dimension of AVRR programs. However, these countries may be disinclined towards cooperation, concerned about the loss of remittances, negative public opinion, and increasing pressure on job markets and public service delivery already stressed by the pandemic. Still, voluntary return and reintegration may be one area where there are tangible opportunities for EU Member States and origin countries alike to build on some converging goals.

This MPI Europe event marks the release of a new policy brief EU Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration: Crafting a Road Map to Better Cooperation with Migrants’ Countries of OriginSpeakers examine origin- and destination-country policy priorities, opportunities for cooperation, challenges and structural limitations that shape what can be achieved, and possible next steps for building on the principles identified in the EU Strategy on Voluntary Return and Reintegration, starting a new chapter for EU-funded AVRR programs. 

Pushing Borders Outward: The State of Asylum Globally Five Years After the EU-Turkey Deal

In the five years since the European Union turned to Turkey to keep asylum seekers and other migrants from reaching European soil in exchange for a variety of economic and other considerations, governments around the world have increasingly externalized their migration controls and asylum proceedings. They have done so by pushing their borders outward through arrangements with transit and origin countries, as well as by implementing barriers that make it harder to access protection. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges by providing a public-health rationale for border closures and entry limitations. The five-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal provides an opportunity to examine how the accessibility of asylum and protection globally has changed.

In this discussion experts considered the extent to which externalization strategies, such as the EU-Turkey agreement or deals with Libya and now-rescinded U.S. agreements to send asylum seekers to Central America, have become the dominant strategies deployed by countries of asylum. How have the impacts of these policies been felt, both by asylum seekers and host and transit countries? And what can be done to ensure refugees continue to have access to protection and asylum procedures?

This event marks the launch of an initiative led by MPI and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, “Beyond Territorial Asylum: Making Protection Work in a Bordered World.” The initiative aims to redesign the global protection and resettlement infrastructure in a way that is more equitable, flexible, and sustainable. 

A Year of Pandemic: The State of Global Human Mobility & What Is on the Horizon

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Labor Migration, Mobility and Security, International Migration, European Migration by Migration Policy Institute on April 11th, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed mobility and cross-border movement in 2020, decimating tourism and business travel, severely curtailing labor migration, and dampening all forms of migration, including refugee resettlement. Since the onset of the public-health crisis, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has tracked the hundreds of travel restrictions, border closures, and health-related travel requirements imposed by governments globally. An IOM-Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report draws from the IOM database to sketch the state of mobility across world regions in 2020, and the range of mobility-related strategies used to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus.
 

This two-panel discussion, featuring introductory remarks by IOM Director General António Vitorino, examines how the pandemic reshaped border management and human mobility in 2020 and what the lasting impacts may be throughout 2021 and beyond. The first panel examines the government actions and regional and international coordination undertaken in 2020, including “travel bubbles” and immunity passports, along with how policymakers balanced health and economic concerns and the needs of vulnerable populations and unprecedented logistical issues in their responses. The second panel explored what policymakers should consider as the world enters into a new, uneven phase marked on the one hand by rising vaccinations, but on the other by the spread of new COVID-19 variants and additional mobility restrictions as caseloads rise in some regions. Speakers discussed what it may take to reopen fully, a possible new border infrastructure focused on public health, what regional and international coordination efforts are showing promise, and a look ahead to major decisions that will need to be made in 2021.

The Future of Refugee Resettlement and Complementary Pathways: Strengthening Sustainable and Strategic Humanitarian Solutions for Refugees

Posted in Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Response, International Migration, European Migration by Migration Policy Institute on February 23rd, 2021

As one of three durable solutions traditionally available for refugees, third-country resettlement is an important part of the international commitment to refugee protection and support. Yet the vast majority of refugees in need of resettlement as a durable solution in 2021 are unlikely to be resettled. In 2020, amid a global pandemic, resettlement numbers reached a record low: only 22,770 (1.6 percent) of the 1.4 million refugees in need of resettlement were resettled. In a recent paper, The Future of Refugee Resettlement & Complementary Pathways: Strengthening sustainable and strategic humanitarian solutions for refugees, Church World Service (CWS) argues that resettlement can and should be a humanitarian program to find protection for individuals and strategically contribute to the resolution of situations of forced displacement. However, achieving these goals will require political, structural, and operational changes. In particular, CWS makes the case that complementary pathways represent untapped opportunities for refugees to improve their lives through migration and proposes several key recommendations to advance complementary pathways and resettlement in the future.

This joint event organized by MPI and CWS, one of nine U.S. refugee resettlement agencies, brings together experts in the field to discuss the paper. As its primary author, Katherine Rehberg, Deputy Vice President of the Immigration and Refugee Program at CWS, presented the key findings and recommendations. The discussion then turned to the European Asylum Support Office’s work to foster closer international cooperation on resettlement submissions and processing, as well as what those experiences hold for wider cooperation between countries on resettlement processing, particularly outside the European Union. In addition, the conversation focused on what is required to implement complementary pathways at an international level.

A Way Forward on Migration Under the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union?

Posted in International Migration, European Migration, Migration Policy Institute Europe by Migration Policy Institute on February 9th, 2021

Portugal assumed the rotating EU Presidency in January 2021 and has prioritized progress on the Migration and Asylum Pact proposed by the European Commission last September. The pact tackles many of the most intractable issues in the management and governance of international migration, including how to manage mixed migration flows that have presented a near-existential challenge for the European Union. With the pact generating a great deal of interest across sending and receiving countries alike, all eyes will be on Portugal as it tries to make progress on issues ranging from managing external borders better, offering protection to asylum seekers with legitimate claims, relocating refugees and asylum seekers, and returns.

Borrowing from U.S. debates on immigration about “comprehensive” versus “piecemeal” reforms, the key questions are how much Portugal can achieve over the next six months, what it should prioritize, and where the Portuguese Presidency can find support for its ambitions. How can Europe manage the external, EU-wide, and even domestic aspects of this policy area more effectively and avoid the policy and political minefields set over the past six years? Will Europe be able to come together on this issue and give meaning to the often-used notions of “solidarity” and “responsibility sharing”? Or will the centrifugal forces on this issue grow and imperil the bloc’s ability to speak and act with one voice on difficult issues?

This MPI-MPI Europe webinar brings together senior officials from the European Union, Germany (the last holder of the presidency) and Portugal to take stock of where the conversations on the pact stand as Germany passes the baton on this issue to Portugal, and Portugal’s plans for taking forward the negotiations. The discussion focuses on two questions: (1) what lessons can be learned from the German Presidency’s work last fall on the pact and what are Portugal’s priorities for making progress on it, and (2) how can European policymakers make the case for greater solidarity on migration and asylum issues?

Welfare States and Migration: How Will the Pandemic Reshape a Complex Relationship?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe was facing a set of interlocking challenges—a rise in spontaneous migration, an aging population, and a changing labor market—all of which put pressure on public finances. The public-health crisis has further exacerbated the situation, imposing huge costs on governments as they scramble to safeguard employment and protect vulnerable groups, including migrants disproportionately affected by job losses. Will this "perfect storm" rock the foundations of European welfare systems in the long term, and how? Will welfare states manage to adapt, and if so, what are the most promising innovations? How can governments close gaps in the social safety net, while laying the groundwork for economic recovery and long-term sustainability?  

This two-part MPI Europe event, moderated by MPI's Meghan Benton, examines these important questions. In the first session, veteran migration thinkers Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Grete Brochmann will reflect on the implications of this current moment for European economies and societies, and the role of immigration. The second session, with Jacopo Mazza, Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Centre, highlighted research from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre on the fiscal and demographic impacts of migration. MPI Europe's Liam Patuzzi and Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, along with European University Institute's Martin Ruhs explored the pandemic’s particular effects on migrants and refugees, gaps in the social safety net, the role immigrant integration policy can play in maximizing the benefits of migration, and smart ideas that governments are implementing to ensure immigration is an economic and demographic asset for the future.

The Post-Pandemic Ascent: The Role of Migration in Emerging from the Economic and Labor Market Turmoil

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Immigrant Integration, Labor Migration, International Migration, European Migration by Migration Policy Institute on November 10th, 2020

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, globally interconnected economies and societies are navigating uncharted waters. The pandemic and its aftermath present policymakers with two crucial challenges: how to manage the spread and hopefully eradication of the disease and how to deal with the economic devastation caused by stay-at-home orders, travel bans, and other measures taken to halt the spread of the virus. Currently migration and mobility have come to a relative standstill. Will migration levels return to pre-pandemic levels? And as most countries’ labor systems and economies are linked to immigration, might this public-health crisis result in a fundamental realignment of economic relationships? Will it stimulate a rethink of migration systems, where policymakers seriously re-examine the role and composition of the foreign-born workforce and approaches to immigrant integration? Or post-pandemic, will countries just revert to their previous approaches to migration, or possibly surge further towards protectionism and restrictionism?

This Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) discussion highlights the impact of the coronavirus on migration and mobility systems, and findings from OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2020 on recent developments in migration movements and policies in OECD countries and some non-member countries. As policymakers grapple with a way forward, speakers--including Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Jean-Christophe Dumont, and Jonathan Chaloff--share their perspectives on the opportunities for innovation, what labor demands may emerge, the role of migration in North America and Europe at this challenging point in history, and whether this moment can be the catalyst for rebuilding of economies and societies that provide the best outcomes for both the native born and immigrants alike.  MPI's Meghan Benton moderated the discussion. 

COVID-19, the Withdrawal Agreement and Citizens’ Rights: No Time to Waste

Posted in Labor Migration, International Migration, European Migration by Migration Policy Institute on October 27th, 2020

With the Brexit transition period quickly coming to an end, the United Kingdom and EU Member States are in a race against time to finalize and start implementing their withdrawal agreement plans on citizens’ rights. But during what should have been a critical planning period, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reoriented priorities and brought additional strains for both governments as well as EU nationals in the United Kingdom and UK nationals in the European Union.

This MPI Europe webinar explores how governments’ withdrawal agreement implementation plans have been affected by COVID-19, and the potential implications on citizens’ rights at the end of the transition period and beyond. Experts including, MPI's Meghan Benton and Aliyyah Ahad, Marina Fernandez from the University of Oxford, Nastasja Fuxa from the European Commission, UK Citizens Rights' Deputy Director
Andy Heath, Identity Malta Agency CEO Anton Sevasta, and Betty Sieperda and Yoram Vanmaekelbergh from the Netherlands Government, tackle the following questions in their conversation:

  • Which populations are most at risk of being left behind at the intersection between Brexit and the pandemic?
  • What contingency measures could mitigate these vulnerabilities and keep implementation timelines on track?
  • How can governments do smart outreach to groups that may have more immediate health and economic concerns, or are increasingly isolated either at home or overseas?
  • How can governments in the European Union capitalize on the lessons from past regularization programs to get a jump start on implementing the withdrawal agreement before January 2021?
  • And what actions and investments are needed for the post-registration period, e.g. the monitoring of UK and EU nationals’ ability to access rights as stipulated under the withdrawal agreement?

Moving Beyond Pandemic: Is Airport COVID-19 Testing Ready for Takeoff?

Posted in International Migration, European Migration, Moving Beyond Pandemic by Migration Policy Institute on October 6th, 2020

Austria’s Vienna airport was an early adopter for in-airport COVID-19 tests, with results turned around within a few hours, sparing those with medical certificates from a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Can this serve as a model for restarting business travel and tourism? We talk to Vienna airport official Peter Kleemann to learn more.

Climate Change and Migration: Converging Issues, Diverging Funding

Posted in International Migration, European Migration, Migration Policy Institute Europe by Migration Policy Institute on June 30th, 2020

While climate change and migration remain high on political agendas in Europe, the exact link between the two remains uncertain. Without clarity on how different climate events might lead to more human mobility (or conversely, immobility), it is difficult for migration policymakers and development actors to align their efforts and ensure they are spending resources wisely. Investments in climate adaptation, for instance, which aim to build communities’ resilience to cope with environmental stress, have only recently begun to take human mobility into account. And so far, adaptation activities make up only a small part of Europe’s formidable climate spending.

The COVID-19 pandemic only adds to the urgency of finding innovative financing tools for climate adaptation and migration. Many of the adaptation strategies policymakers previously applied to support communities affected by sudden-onset floods or slow-onset desertification are now obsolete, for example as physical distancing requirements have complicated evacuation and relocation. And because the issue cuts across different policy portfolios, it is difficult to assign clear responsibilities. 

This MPI Europe discussion, with MPI Europe's Hanne Beirens, University of Liège's François Gemenne, GIZ's Dorothea Rischewski, and the European Investment Bank's Moa Westman, explored different migration policy options related to climate adaptation and the evolving landscape of climate finance tools. Speakers also examined what funding gaps and opportunities exist for collaboration with partner countries and what funding instruments might address the most pressing needs. The conversation also explored the implications of COVID-19 for migration and climate adaptation funding approaches.

Rethinking and Restarting: What should the returns process look like post-pandemic?

COVID-19-related border closures, travel restrictions, and uncertainties as to how to safeguard the health of returnees and their receiving communities have paralyzed the migrant-return system across the globe. With a few notable exceptions, such as the United States and Sweden, most countries have halted the return of rejected asylum seekers and irregular migrants, including overstayers, to their countries of origin until further notice. Authorities have paused or postponed return or removal orders, shifted to automatic renewal of immigration permits and, in some cases, opted to release migrants awaiting their return from closed detention centers (e.g., in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom).  

As countries move into different phases of reopening, the question of when and how to return migrants will become increasingly pressing. How feasible will the transfer of migrants be between countries that are at different points on the containment curve? How politically desirable is it to press certain countries to readmit their citizens when the coronavirus is already testing the limits of their infrastructure?

Furthermore, the return process was already plagued by problems of low return rates, controversial returns, and overly ambitious reintegration goals.

Part of MPI Europe's webinar series exploring what the migrant-return and reintegration process might look like in the post-COVID period, this webinar highlights the opportunity the restart offers countries to rethink and improve their return and reintegration operations. Before turning to the reintegration process later this summer, this first webinar in the series showcases speakers from Belgium's Fedasil, the French Office of Immigration and Integration, and the International Organization for Migration discussing the counselling of (potential) returnees to increase the uptake of voluntary return – a return option that is generally seen as more humanitarian, practical, less expensive, and sustainable.

Humanitarian Protection in an Era of Pandemic

The rapid closures of borders around the world have been among the most dramatic migration-related effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 130 countries have introduced entry restrictions at their borders, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates. While these closures have virtually suspended leisure and business travel across the world, the effects are proving even more severe for refugees and migrants fleeing danger. Crossing an international border to a country of safety and filing an asylum claim is no longer possible in many places—a seismic shock to the foundations of a post-World War II international protection system that relies on the goodwill of national governments to grant access to their territory for those in need.

The pandemic has also placed into stark relief the unique vulnerabilities forced migrants now confront in the face of outbreak. The reception facilities where many asylum seekers live while awaiting a verdict on their claim invite outbreaks, even in high-income countries with well-run asylum and reception systems. Infection is likely to spread even more rapidly in severely overcrowded facilities, such as the camps on the Greek islands and informal settlements in Mexican border cities where migrants awaiting U.S. asylum hearings are massed. In developing countries where access to proper health care is limited even for nationals, the consequences of the pandemic could be disastrous for refugees who often live in densely packed housing with poor sanitation. At the same time, the suspension of resettlement operations by IOM and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has closed off a crucial lifeline for the especially vulnerable.

Speakers on this webinar consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected—and perhaps, remade—the global protection systems. Meghan Benton, Director for Research of MPI’s International Program, is joined by MPI colleagues, Kathleen Newland, Hanne Beirens, Sarah Pierce, and Susan Fratzke, for a free-flowing conversation regarding the effects of the pandemic on asylum systems in Europe and North America, as well as those in developing regions, where 85 percent of refugees remain. In addition to considering the immediate effects the crisis has had on national asylum systems and on refugees themselves, the conversation looks ahead and begin to assess the implications for the principle of asylum and access to protection in the future.

View MPI's resources on COVID-19

Expert Podcast: Meeting Seasonal Labor Needs in the Age of COVID-19

Governments are facing urgent pandemic-related questions. One of the more pressing ones: Who is going to harvest crops in countries that rely heavily on seasonal foreign workers? In this podcast, MPI experts Hanne Beirens, Kate Hooper, and Camille Le Coz, examine ways in which countries could address labor shortages in agriculture, including recruiting native-born workers and letting already present seasonal workers stay longer. Catch an interesting discussion as border closures have halted the movement of seasonal workers even as crops are approaching harvest in some places.

 

Migration & Coronavirus: A Complicated Nexus Between Migration Management and Public Health

Governments around the world have adopted significant migration management measures to try to contain and halt the spread of COVID-19. Border closures, travel restrictions, prohibitions on arrivals from certain areas, and heightened screening have been among the leading policy responses, initially to try to block COVID-19 from crossing borders and later, as the pandemic became a global one, as part of a raft of mobility restrictions seeking to mitigate further spread. The success of these restrictions in stemming the initial breakout of public health threats across international borders as well as their role in mitigating "community spread" within affected states is a matter of dispute. More clear, however, is that internal measures—such as business closures and "lockdown" orders—are likely to be borne disproportionately by the most vulnerable, including refugees, unauthorized populations, and other immigrants.
 
This webinar, organized by the Migration Policy Institute and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School, discussed the state of play around the globe and examined where migration management and enforcement tools may be useful and where they may be ill-suited to advancing public health goals. Experts compared the current response (and rhetoric) to what has been seen during prior major public health crises in the United States and internationally, and discussed how this is likely to affect future mobility and international cooperation on issues such as humanitarian protection.

Speakers included:

Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow, MPI, and former Commissioner, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service

Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, Associate Director, International Program, Migration Policy Institute (MPI)

T. Alexander Aleinikoff, University Professor and Director, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, and former Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Alan Kraut, Distinguished University Professor of History, American University, and MPI Nonresident Fellow

View all MPI resources related to COVID-19.

Seasonal Worker Programs in Europe: Lessons Learned and Ways Forward

Posted in Labor Migration, European Migration, Migration Policy Institute Europe by Migration Policy Institute on February 28th, 2020

Across Europe, employers with seasonal labor needs in sectors such as agriculture, hospitality, and tourism often rely on hiring workers from other countries. Some, such as Germany, source these workers from other EU Member States, especially in Eastern and Central Europe. Others rely on programs that recruit seasonal workers from non-EU countries such as Morocco. While low-skilled workers generally have limited opportunities to legally migrate to the European Union, seasonal migration forms an important exception.

Designing and implementing seasonal worker programs that are responsive to labor market needs but also prioritize the well-being of seasonal workers and deter overstays remain challenging. Likewise, while studies point to the potential development contributions of seasonal migration for origin countries, policymakers can struggle to translate this potential into practice. 

As the European Union prepares to review the implementation of its Seasonal Workers Directive, as well as countries such as the United Kingdom continue to explore new approaches to selecting seasonal workers, this webinar features findings from a policy briefSeasonal Worker Programs in Europe: Promising Practices and Ongoing ChallengesOn this webinar MPI Policy Analyst Kate Hooper was joined Concordia CEO Stephanie Maurel and Jan Schneider, Head of the Research Unit at the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR), for a discussion recent trends in European seasonal migration programmes and best practices.

This webinar is part of a project by MPI Europe and the Expert Council’s Research Unit on mobility options to Europe for those not in need of protection, supported by the Mercator Foundation.

Turning the Tide: Addressing the Long-Term Challenges of EU Mobility for Sending Countries

Posted in Immigrant Integration, Labor Migration, European Migration by Migration Policy Institute on December 5th, 2019

More than a decade after EU eastern enlargement, some eastern Member States are still grappling with the consequences of large-scale emigration for their communities, economies, and societies. Emigration may come with certain advantages: it can relieve pressure in situations of high unemployment, generate remittances, and allow mobile EU citizens to pursue better job opportunities and living conditions. In the long run, however, brain drain, demographic decline, and eroding tax bases can put a massive strain on countries of emigration, and may even trigger a downward spiral that ultimately stands in the way of EU convergence.

Amid ongoing debates about the costs and benefits of free movement, this Migration Policy Institute Europe webinar examines evidence from the EU-funded REMINDER (Role of European Mobility and Its Impacts in Narratives, Debates and EU Reform) project on different types of East-West mobility. Among the topics of discussion: mobility of care workers, short-term cross-border movement in frontier regions, and return migration to countries of origin—and their impact on sending countries’ communities and societies. Speakers--MPI's Meghan Benton and Liam Patuzzi, Bernhard Perchinig of International Centre for Migration Policy Development, and Marcin Wiatrów from the Polish Ministry of Family, Labour, and Social Policy--examine big-picture trends of East-West migration; consider possible policy responses at regional, national, and EU levels to alleviate some of the challenges; and reflect on realistic actions that could be taken under a new European Commission.

Legal Migration Pathways to Europe for Low- and Middle-Skilled Migrants

Against a backdrop of large-scale spontaneous migration flows towards Europe, facilitating legal migration is often called for as an alternative to irregular migration for individuals and groups not in need of international protection. Moreover, with populations aging and workforces slated to shrink over the next few decades in many European countries, policies that can efficiently recruit migrants to meet labor and skills shortages will be at a premium. While the conversation to date has focused on high-skilled migrants, short-to-medium term projections suggest that demand may also grow for low- and middle-skilled workers in sectors such as health and elder care, manufacturing, and construction. But the changing political environment around migration means that the space for reforms to legal migration policies has narrowed in many countries. At the national level, for example, policymakers must strike a fine balance between accommodating employer demand for more flexible and responsive selection policies and meeting their obligations to protect and promote the labor market participation of local populations. And while expanding legal migration pathways is a common theme of negotiations with third countries, both political and practical considerations (such as how to test demand and scale up initiatives) have stymied efforts to deliver on this pledge.

This event hosted by MPI Europe and the Research Unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration includes a discussion of research into legal migration pathways for work and training for low- and middle-skilled migrants not in need of protection.

Speakers consider several questions:
• What opportunities for work or training in Europe can low- and middle-skilled third-country nationals access? What policies and programs have been tried and tested at EU and Member State levels and how successful have they been?
• What practical reforms can governments consider to their selection policies to ensure they are primed to assess and respond to fast-changing labor market needs? What lessons can we learn from bilateral partnerships on legal migration in this regard?
• What role can the European Union play in supporting efforts by Member States to reform or expand their legal migration channels? Where is the European Union’s added value most keenly felt?

“Legal migration for work and training: Mobility options to Europe for those not in need of protection” is a project of the Research Unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration in cooperation with MPI Europe, and is funded by Stiftung Mercator.

On the Wrong Path? Protecting the European Union’s External Border in the Western Balkans

Posted in Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Response, International Migration, European Migration by Migration Policy Institute on July 16th, 2019

The European Union’s more stringent controls on its external border are having serious effects for its near neighbors. In Bosnia, thousands of people trying to make their way to EU Member States last year had their paths blocked at the Croatian border. Many spent the winter in Bosnia, a country ill-equipped to deal with their needs. Bosnian authorities have struggled to adapt, even with help from international agencies and the European Union, with whom they signed an agreement in January to facilitate joint operations and so-called "rapid border interventions."

With thousands more migrants potentially traveling through the Western Balkans this year, this MPI Europe webinar explores the implications of the buttressed EU border on the bloc’s neighbors. Is this another example of the European Union outsourcing its toughest political issues on migration control? How can the European Union support efforts to address irregular migration in neighboring countries, many of which are already struggling with complex economic and political challenges? If the incoming crop of EU leaders continues these policies, what are the tradeoffs and considerations that they must weigh? In a conversation led by MPI Europe Acting Director Hanne Beirens, Save the Children International Senior Advocacy Adviser Karen Mets, Central European Initiative Project Manager Ugo Poli, and Peter Van der Auweraert, International Organization for Migration Western Balkans Coordinator, address these and other questions on this webinar.

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