Europe, migration and development - High time for a strategic rethink

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Europe, migration and development - High time for a strategic rethink

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Europe’s conversation on the complex relationship between migration and development has become a simple, one-sided affair with development assistance often highlighted as a means to stop migration. Studies have shown, however, that immigration generally rises with economic development until countries reach upper-middle income status. The movement of people across borders is also a force for economic growth in host countries – Europe, for example, needs young migrants to compensate for its ageing population – while remittances help boost living standards in developing countries. The current political context and the increasing numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe have sidelined such a nuanced and far-sighted discussion, however. The focus has shifted instead to stopping large-scale migrant flows, including through agreements with third countries, reinforced border controls and returning those who are found to be illegally in Europe. As development cooperation comes to be viewed as an important tool in efforts to manage migration flows, critics warn that the EU is departing from some of its long-standing principles, such as poverty eradication as the main objective of development cooperation, towards a new interest-based approach.

  • Is the EU right to focus on migration-related objectives in its development policy or is it time for a strategic rethink of EU approaches to migration and development?
  • What is the state of play of the European Agenda on Migration and how effective has it been in ensuring better migration management?
  • Beyond short-term fixes and emergency brakes on migration, how will an ageing Europe and a youthful Middle East, Africa and Asia co-exist in the long-term?
  • What sectors would reap the most economic rewards from migration flows into Europe?
  • With the World Bank warning that remittances are on the decline, what impact will this have on countries who have relied on them the most?
  • Are policy initiatives such as the German government’s “Compact with Africa” and “Marshall Plan with Africa” correct responses to Africa’s development needs?

IMAGE CREDIT: CC/Flickr — European Commission DG ECHO

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