The EU's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility - European Union Committee Contents

Chapter 6: maximising the development impact of migration and mobility

The role of development in the GAMM

112.  The fourth pillar of the GAMM concerns maximising the development impact of migration and mobility. It states that the EU and the international community have made great strides in this area, but in order to be fully effective, the external and internal dimensions of relevant EU policy areas, including foreign policy and development cooperation, need to be more closely aligned.[144]

A more integrated approach?

113.  Tobias Billström considered that the EU should carry out more work in facilitating the connection between migration and development at the EU and international levels, as well as in relation to other key policy areas, including trade, development aid, foreign and security policy and human rights.[145] Charles Clarke made a similar point[146] and Peter Sutherland told us the implications of migration for development and foreign policy is "an issue that goes far beyond the boundaries of state security".[147]

114.  We heard criticism that the GAMM did not sufficiently consider development issues because it was primarily driven by a "home affairs agenda". Professor Boswell and Hugo Brady called for more joined up working between different parts of the Commission, including the Directorates-General for Development (DG DEVCO), Employment and Social Affairs (DG EMPL), Home Affairs (DG HOME) and the EEAS, in implementing the GAMM and identifying future priorities.[148] Bernd Hemingway from the IOM remarked that the EEAS did not have a dedicated section dealing with migration matters.[149]

115.  Stefano Manservisi disagreed that the GAMM was primarily directed by home affairs concerns and stressed that the Commission was keen to end "fragmentation". He stated that it regularly consulted and worked with other Commission DGs and the EEAS when formulating GAMM policies "in order to run it as a collective operation". It had a strategic and financial framework agreement with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to help implement its work on returns and also consulted the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) when developing migration policy to ensure that it took account of climate change and development factors.[150] It also funded the ICMPD to facilitate dialogue with non-EU countries on GAMM-related issues to ensure that their perspectives were reflected in GAMM policy. Bernd Hemingway confirmed that the IOM had been working with the Commission on the GAMM from the outset, which included being consulted extensively on both the Communication and its implementation.[151] He also noted that as the majority of the IOM's members were developing countries, the development aspects of migration were very much to the forefront of its discussions.[152]

116.  The Minister for Immigration took a contrary view, arguing that while development cut across many different areas, he was not in favour of closer integration between the different Commission DGs regarding development issues, including any attempt by the EEAS to go "beyond its brief". Open Europe did not think that linking migration to the EU's foreign policy aims was a priority.[153]

117.  Migration policy cannot and should not be the sole concern of interior ministries. We support the approach advocated by a number of our witnesses for a more integrated approach to be adopted, which should involve other ministries such as Business, Innovation and Skills, Development and Foreign Affairs.

118.  We also consider that the Commission should adopt a similar approach when seeking to achieve the objectives of the Global Approach by engaging all the relevant parts of the Commission, including the Directorate-Generals for Home Affairs, Development and Employment and Social Affairs, and the European External Action Service.


119.  Christopher Chope characterised the role of trade in helping to limit immigration from North Africa to the EU as "buying Tunisian tomatoes" and stressed that if the EU wanted to address these issues, it needed to reduce trade barriers with these countries.[154] Open Europe stated that boosting trade should be one of the EU's main objectives because of the Commission's real competence in this area, which could be negotiated at the same time as improved border controls.[155] The Minister for Immigration also considered trade to be an important factor in this process but did not want to alter the current balance between the United Kingdom's bilateral development and aid programmes with third countries and the EU's work in this area.[156]

120.  We consider that the EU's development aims in the migration context could be assisted by taking steps to reduce trade barriers with non-EU countries.

Brain drain, remittances and diaspora

121.  The GAMM identifies brain drain,[157] over-qualification or "brain waste" and the dependence on foreign labour markets as the downsides of migration, and argues that they need to be tackled jointly in partnerships between the EU and non-EU countries. On the flip side, it also talks about the potential of migrants to contribute to the development of their country of origin through the transfer of remittances, know-how and innovations. It calls for the migrant-centred approach to be articulated and implemented through an enhanced dialogue with the diaspora, migrant groups and relevant organisations, including human rights considerations.[158]


122.  The Migrants' Rights Network considered the issue of brain drain to be a largely outmoded concept, now that educational attainment had increased significantly in Africa, Asia and South America. It argued that migrants benefit both their own country, and the country receiving them".[159] Professor Skeldon referred to the concerns that were raised about brain drain from Taiwan and South Korea in the 1960s, and noted that the negative predications did not come to pass. Professor Boswell considered that the conflict between demand for highly skilled ICT and health sector labour and concerns about brain drain made it difficult for the Commission to speak with one voice about this matter.[160]

123.  We heard that the change in the global economic balance of power was also re-orientating the brain drain debate. Bernd Hemingway from the IOM cited recent EU negotiations in India, where the EU's question of "What can the European Union do for you?" was met with the following reply by the Indian Minister: "The question is wrong. Your question should be, 'What can you Indians do for us Europeans?' With this in mind, the IOM argued that the EU needed to improve its offer to non-EU countries as a result, because there are elements of labour migration that it should welcome.[161] Stefano Manservisi strongly echoed this point, stating that the Commission was acutely aware of the increasing appeal of universities in countries such as Brazil and China; and that the EU was now experiencing much tougher global competition in attracting talent.[162] We explore the increasingly competitive and global market for higher education in more detail in Chapter 8.


124.  Bernd Hemingway pointed to the Philippines as a good example of the benefits that outward migration can bring to the country in terms of remittances. He noted that the Philippines had made a concerted effort to connect the legal path of labour migration to national development.[163] Peter Sutherland told us that, globally, more than $350 billion in remittances was sent back every year from migrants to their countries of origin.[164] While this is a significant amount of money, Professor Skeldon considered that the benefits of remittances had "been rather overdone" and that evidence of a negative migration impact on countries of origin was also difficult to find.[165] The Government welcomed the attempts to improve the access to remittances developing opportunities for diaspora groups, referring to their own efforts to make remittances cheaper and to increase access to finance.[166]


125.  Peter Sutherland told us that the Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD) was now turning its attention to the issue of engaging diasporas in the development of national economies.[167] Professor Skeldon highlighted the potential challenges of working with diaspora groups, with support for certain parts of a diaspora running the risk of becoming politicised.[168] At the EU level, the ICPDM referred to its ongoing work on an EU-funded project with organisations in the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, and with AFFORD[169] in the United Kingdom, to establish a European-wide African Diaspora Platform for Development.[170]

126.  We believe there is a general EU interest in pursuing proactive policies regarding brain drain, remittances and diasporas. However, in order for the EU to make a positive contribution to facilitating remittances, mitigating the effects of brain drain on countries of origin and assisting diasporas to transfer skills to their countries of origin, its work in this area needs to supplement dialogue with concrete actions. This could include support for making remittances more affordable, schemes to increase access to finance in remote locations and providing funding for the development of vocational skills.

144   GAMM, pp. 18-20 Back

145   Q 39 and Q 45 Back

146   Q 147 Back

147   Q 9 Back

148   Q 219, Q 180 Back

149   Q 372 Back

150   Q 302, Q 317, QQ 322-323 Back

151   Q 364 Back

152   Q 304 Back

153   Q 106 Back

154   Q 211 Back

155   QQ 112-113 Back

156   Q 252 Back

157   The large-scale emigration of a group of individuals with technical skills or knowledge Back

158   GAMM, p. 6 Back

159   Migrants' Rights Network Back

160   Q 221 Back

161   Q378 Back

162   Q 316, Q 321 Back

163   Q 378 Back

164   Q 9 Back

165   QQ 226-228 Back

166   UK Government Back

167   Q 5 Back

168   QQ 226-228 Back

169   An organisation in Britain, bringing together Africans from different countries and backgrounds to involve Africans abroad more directly in Africa's development. Back

170   QQ 361. For more information about the European-wide African Diaspora Platform for Development see: 

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