|The migration of peoples within and into Europe is
not a modern phenomenon. It has always existed, and always will
The EU is second only to North America as a destination
for international migration. It is estimated that there are 20
million legal migrants living in the EU from third countries.
The number of irregular migrants currently living in the EU is,
by definition, difficult to estimate but is considered to be between
2-4 million. While the EU receives a relatively large number of
asylum-seekers it is home to a relatively small proportion of
the world's refugees. Population growth for many European countries
is projected to be negative and over the next 50 years the number
of foreign-born residents is projected to increase, while Europeans
Whatever the benefitseconomic and culturalof
migration, it has frequently proved controversial. Europe in the
early twenty-first century is no exception. The rise of far right
political parties in many Member States, which reflect and sometimes
stoke fears among the electorate about immigration to Europe from
the Islamic world among other things, has provoked policy responses
from the more mainstream parties in government. Member State concerns
and controversies are invariably reproduced at the EU level.
Therefore, while we believe that the control of immigration
from third countries should be, as it is now, the responsibility
of individual Member States, we consider that a coordinated approach
by the EU and its Member States to deal with the external dimension
of migration is not only desirable but also imperative. The Global
Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) appears to provide a
good framework for this and its four pillarson legal migration,
irregular migration, asylum and developmentare considered
in this report.
We concur with the view that the EU's demographic
challenges and future labour market needs are likely to require
greater flexibility in the handling of legal migration from third
countries in order to secure its economic growth and competitiveness.
However, we do not consider more migration to be a panacea. The
skills of EU citizens also need to be developed alongside necessary
labour market reforms. The integration of migrants is also important
and we believe that civil society can make a valuable contribution
to the formulation and implementation of policies in this area.
Regarding irregular migration, it is important to
recognise that the majority of irregular migrants enter the EU
with authorisation and then overstay their visas rather than crossing
the EU's external border by boat or land routes illegally, as
some commentators suggest. With this in mind we believe that Member
States and the EU should adopt a more effective approach in preventing
irregular migration, including EU Readmission Agreements.
We acknowledge the potential role of Regional Protection
Programmes in refugee management and building capacity in the
asylum systems of countries of origin and transit, particularly
the programme that has been established for Syria. The Joint EU
Resettlement Programme is also welcome.
Migration policy cannot and should not be the sole
concern of interior ministries and we believe that a more integrated
approach with development and foreign affairsat the national
and EU levelwould help maximise the EU's development aims.
The reduction of trade barriers with non-EU countries and measures
to facilitate remittances, mitigate the effects of brain drain
and assist diasporas would also be beneficial to development in
migrants' countries of origin.
While we welcome the framework provided by the GAMM
to tackle the above issues we also believe that its approach is
too diffuse. In future it should adopt a more focused approach,
concentrating on the EU's geographical and strategic priorities,
and accommodating the requirements of the participating Member
We believe that Mobility Partnerships have real potential
but in order for them to be more effective the existing Partnerships
must be properly evaluated from the outset and the potential benefits
from prospective ones identified before they are undertaken.
As migration is a global phenomenon we consider it
desirable that the Commission has a more prominent role on the
international stage, particularly in forums like the Global Forum
for Migration and Development, as long as this does not undermine
the primary responsibilities of Member States to determine the
levels of immigration.
The United Kingdom remains outside the Schengen Area.
But the United Kingdom's migration policy cannot and should not
be formulated and implemented in a vacuum. So far the United Kingdom
has refrained from opting in to the majority of EU legal and irregular
migration measures and has started to extricate itself from the
Common European Asylum System. We have consistently urged the
Government to play a full part in EU asylum and immigration policies
and believe that a more constructive accommodation with the Schengen
Area could also provide benefits for the United Kingdom. We encourage
the Government to opt-in to all EU Readmission Agreements.
The EU's Single Market is predicated on the free
movement of its own citizens between Member States. This freedom
is fundamental to the United Kingdom's continued membership of
We also urge the Government to remove international
students from their net migration reduction targets. Failure to
do so will impair both the quality of the United Kingdom's higher
education sector and its ability to compete for talented individuals
in an increasingly competitive global market. It will also damage
one of its primary invisible exports and the long-terms benefits
of fostering international relationships in this area.