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European development policy has become mixed up with an often-caustic debate on migration, raising doubts over the best ways for the EU to cooperate with developing countries on poverty reduction and refugees.

That was the message from a Friends of Europe Policymakers’ Dinner on the complex relationship between migration and development, held in the same week as the annual European Development Days event for the development community.

Migration is an important topic, because of the abuse of people in situations of irregularity. But populist opposition to large-scale migration has led to reinforced border controls and the return of those found to be in Europe illegally.

Mixing up debates on migration and development can also lead to confusion. Though migration generally rises with economic development, development assistance is often highlighted as a means to stop migration. However, new arrivals often make a significant contribution to economic growth in host countries. Young migrants compensate for Europe’s ageing population, while at the same time their remittances help boost living standards in developing countries.

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IMAGE CREDIT: CC/Flickr—European Commission DG ECHO

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