When , on 11 September 2015, the Polish prime minister signed a declaration of the Visegrad Group on the migration crisis in Europe, it seemed that the division between old and new Europe stood beyond repair. In the declaration, the countries opposed any form of obligatory refugee distribution in European Union. This act, together with repeated concerns voiced by Polish politicians, pointed to another problem, which was not entirely understood by the Western public. Eastern European Member States have been caricatured, over the migration flap, as being “not-quite” European, non-democratic, selfish and ungrateful. But the domestic context was missing from the debate. It still is.
For scholars of migration policy and politics in Europe, what happened in Poland was more significant than what happened in other parts of Europe. First this was because for the first time since the 1500s immigration had become a topic of public discourse and political debate. Second, it was because a country with a less than 1% of foreign-born population, of whom perhaps 0.2% are Muslims, put on a remarkable show of xenophobia and Islamophobia. Third, it is the first time that political scientists will have the opportunity to analyze an election, where immigration is a key issue, and yet where there are almost no immigrants nor visible others.
Now, with the relocation mechanism agreed, at least by the Polish government, it is time to dig into the domestic realities that shaped the debate in Poland. It is necessary to take stock of the situation, any harm done, and consider options for the future. This is important since, without proper understanding, implementation of the program in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe will not succeed and thousands of asylum seekers might find themselves at risk.
Polish people see the idea of a refugee as fuzzy
The Polish government signed the Geneva Convention in 1991, in a year filled with chaotic inflows from the collapsing Soviet Union. The move, as many others in that period, was never discussed publicly; policymakers were busy with basic needs rather that national debates. In any case, anything that bore the stamp of European integration during that period was accepted. In fact, many people did not know (and in some cases still do not know) that Poland is party to the Convention.
Poland has never been a generous refugee host. This position stems from a rather inconvenient truth; each Polish family knows at least one Polish political refugee who emigrated during the 1980s to the West, be it as a refugee, immigrant or an Aussiedler. These were generally not political activists but people fleeing the communist regime and a lack of economic perspectives. “Na azyl” (as an asylum seeker) was the most secure emigration strategy from communist Poland after the martial law was imposed. On 13 December 1981, well over 100,000 Polish people, who were outside Poland, were given the option to stay by generous Western governments. At the same time, only 4,500 thousand political prisoners were expelled from the country. The vast majority of Polish people passing through the camps in Austria, Greece and Italy to reach Canada, USA or Australia in the 1980s were thus migrants looking for a better life in a more democratic environment, and not strictly political refugees persecuted for their activities. In fact, the most prominent activists never emigrated. So, yes, Poles benefited from the generosity of the hosting states. Yet, the way in which they benefited has left its mark; they see the asylum system as naïve and prone to error.
This skepticism is fuelled by two recurrent images: people smuggled to the Greek and Italian coasts, who are able to pay thousands of euros for the trip, and Syrian families living in destitute conditions in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, and of course in Syria. In the Polish national imagination, a refugee is a war refugee, a person without any funds, fleeing an imminent threat without a time to gather their belongings; in other terms the second group. So far European leaders and the media have failed to relate the first group (people blocked along EU borders) to the idea of penniless war refugees.
The people pouring into Europe are seen, then, as non-deserving. In the best case scenario they are “bogus”, in the worst, terrorists. Polish public opinion is much more interested in helping people blocked in Syria or in the Middle East than people, who paid twice the average Polish salary to get to the EU. It is clear that the idea of what constitutes a real refugee is quite different in the Polish and Western imagination; one is built on first-hand experience, the second is built on ideology. This dualism can explain at least part of the miscommunication between the East and the West.
Multiculturalism – a forgotten history
Poland was a multicultural country until the Second World War when over 30% of the population belonged to ethnic minorities. Well into the 1700s (until its partition), Polish society had a tradition of tolerance for religious and cultural diversity, including tolerance towards Muslims. These were the Tatars, who had served in the Polish army since the 1600s and who had supported it in the wars against Turkey. However, by the 1930s, Polish society had failed to become democratic or egalitarian, reflecting the anti-Semitism and xenophobia present in many European countries at that time. One example is the apartheid system for Jews in 1930s Poland. Communist rule cleared Poland of ethnic minorities within post-1945 borders, creating massive often chaotic and dramatic population exchange. Polish people were sent to Poland from the lands assigned to the Soviet Union and from Germany, while non-Polish Poles moved in the other direction. This continued well into the 1960s when Jewish Poles and Polish Germans, especially, were expelled. Foreigners were not welcome in great numbers, quite the opposite. In this situation, post-communist Poland did not have a multicultural society or even think too much about integrating minorities. Good work has been done in meeting the needs of historic minorities under the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities. However, their number being very small, fewer than 2%, they have been off the radar and have not interfered with the idea of a homogenous Polish catholic nation.
Islam and Polish society
Apart from c. 10,000 Polish Tatars, Muslims in Poland are, almost by definition, foreign. There are fewer than 100,000 of them, most of them refugees. The biggest group are Chechens. Yet, until now, this inflow barely registered among the general public. People did not really know that Poland takes in refugees from Chechnya or ignored it in the name of the well-developed idea of the common enemy: Russia. Chechens were not seen as a threat because they fled Russia. The same happened with people fleeing the war zone in Bosnia. Their religion was not an issue, their status as war refugees was more important. Polish people, like other Eastern Europeans, formed their ideas of what Islam is from sensational and biased Western media coverage of honour crimes in Germany, burning cars in Sweden, genital mutilation in Norway, teenagers from the UK fleeing to ISIS, and terrorist attacks across Europe; they did not get to know Muslims personally. There was no counter-discourse available against this steady diet of fear. Emigration to the UK acerbated the fear discourse, as Polish emigrants, on the margins of the UK labour market, took over condescending British discourses on Muslims and visibly different foreigners (e.g. a word “pako” for Pakistani Muslim did not exist in Polish language before 2004). The sudden change in media discourse from “terrorists” to “refugees” is not understood.
The active engagement of the Polish military in Iraq and Afghanistan did not help the case of Muslims in Poland. Poland was used for secret CIA prisons (with torture) and thus the idea that a Muslim was a radical Islamist settled in.
Polish migration and integration policy
Polish policy towards foreigners was shaped by the restrictive approaches promoted by the EU in the 1990s. As a country with no prior experience nor expectations, Poland could have developed a different open borders policy (which it was prone to promote until 1995), but was stopped by the EU accession requirements. This stance had clear consequences: when studying Polish political debates at that time we can see an opposition to closure across political ranks, while the final restrictive outcome was a question of meeting EU convergence demands. 
Importantly, Poland focused on asylum and borders as the two policy areas where the EU had clear requirements. Legal migration and integration were left practically unattended. Until the summer of 2007, when the Polish government (run then by a right-wing populist party) rushed through the first of a series of bills opening the Polish labour market to temporary workers from the Eastern Neighbourhood. There was no opposition to the bill and there was no real public debate about this issue. Integration was seen as rather unimportant because of the small numbers of foreign nationals in the country and those there tended to integrate on a “DIY” model. The belief that Poland attracts only Ukrainians, who can easily melt into Polish society, slowed down any initiatives that might have prepared the society for an increased number of visibly different minorities. This happened as the top second group coming to Poland were first the Vietnamese and then, the Chinese.
The worst possible moment
The present refugee crisis happened at the worst possible moment for the government. As the pro-European Polish governing party braced for elections in October, any false move would cost them re-election. The main opposition party has taken the political line of Fidesz in Hungary and its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who openly admires Viktor Orban. This situation required a move to the right by the leading centre party. Still, it seems, they will lose the election.
The problem, however, is bigger; as Polish sociologists explain, the pendulum in education that leaned more to the right after 1989, created a generation of people brought up with admiration for a nationalist vision of society and despising any expression of left-wing beliefs labelling them “communist”. It must be remembered that in Eastern Europe this is worse than “fascist”. Also, the brutal economic transformation strengthened selfish survivalism. There is no tradition of left-wing parties in Poland. In this context, the government had to build its negotiating position on the public back home. At the same time, the years of non-information and “immigration-not-our-problem” discourses backfired. Even when the relocation mechanism is finally agreed in detail, it is hard to predict how it will be implemented by the right-wing government that will take power next month.
The move by Russia to engage in Syria may yet bring Poland to the common EU table on migration issues and assure its cooperation. For the right-wing nationalists Russia is still a greater danger than Muslim terrorists.
Challenges to the implementation of the program
There are three main challenges to the implementation of the relocation program in Poland:
- Implementation might prove difficult in a society that now has a majority openly hostile towards Arabs (by definition Muslim, the nuanced discourse is absent) and only a minority interested in a more pragmatic approach. It is clear that an information campaign is long overdue.
- It is unclear how the mechanism wants to keep people in a place they do not want to be. For all their political talk, one point stands: refugees do not want to stay in Poland. They see low wages, an inexistent welfare state and a bumpy economy. But also they are not part of a bigger ethnic community, so they are deprived of a much needed community safety net, not to mention a greater probability of being singled out. Labour market integration measures must be elaborated and introduced, as it is only through the labour market that new refugees will stand a chance of integrating and of being accepted. EU-wide support is needed.
- Refugees in Poland receive slightly over 300 euros: this is not a sum anybody can live on in a big Polish city. Poverty is the greatest enemy of visible minorities in a largely xenophobic country. Thus the mechanism means more funds from the richer countries to complement this salary allowing for successful integration and preventing secondary movements.
- The distrust of non-war refugees are rooted in Polish national experience and thus will be very difficult to change. It would be worth debating the underlying assumptions of the European asylum system and how to implement it when many Europeans (not only Eastern Europeans) do not believe in its principles. More debates, more awareness is needed, not least in this field.
- Since 2001, Western European countries have allowed mindless Islamophobia to grow unchecked. Only the mass murder performed in their name by Breivik turned the attention of the European leaders to this problem. But it was already too late, and horror stories found fertile ground where they cannot be checked against day-to-day reality: Eastern Europe. There is an urgent need to address this issue now, across the EU, with large scale actions. Otherwise one form of extremism will lead to another.
Without more EU support Poland and other newcomers to the refugee-takers table, Muslim immigrants will become frustrated and insecure. Their radicalization might become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We must act now.
Cfr D. Stola Kraj bez wyjścia. Migracje z Polski 1949–1989, IPN, Warszawa 2010. We do not know, however, the exact share because such estimates were never provided. E.g. In the 2003 study of 100 returnees to Poland performed by Institute of Public Affairs, more than 60% of those claiming refugee status abroad were in fact bogus asylum seekers. Also, the diaries of Polish people describing the life in the transit camps shed light on the real motives of the emigrants.
A. Weinar, Polityka Polski wobec cudzoziemców 1990-2003, Scholar, Warszawa, 2006.
Raising questions over the Swiss vote against mass immigration – A Policy Brief by Prof. Vincent ChetailPosted: March 12, 2014
The recent short victory of the ‘no’ to mass immigration in Switzerland raises several questions: How come a country with a successful economy says no to immigration? What are the implications of this vote beyond the issue of freedom of movement within the European Union?
These were the questions posed by Professor Vincent Chetail, Director of the Global Migration Centre and Professor of Public International Law at the Graduate Institute Geneva, on 27 February 2014 at the EUI during his lecture on “The Swiss vote against mass immigration, freedom of movement and international law: a preliminary assessment”. The lecture was followed by a stimulating discussion chaired by Professor Philippe De Bruycker, Deputy-Director of the MPC, in which Professor Adrienne Héritier, Professor of Comparative and European Public Policy, acted as discussant.
A policy brief by Professor Chetail follows his lecture at the EUI, the full text of which can be found HERE. The author identifies a number of treaties contrary to immigration quotas and examines the different options available to Switzerland since the popular vote.
Highly-skilled migrants seem the solution for European needs in terms not only of growth but also for innovation.
Does research provide evidence for this general impression?
Measuring innovation is very complex. Two proxies are used to measure innovation in production: the registration of patents; and total factor productivity.
The registration of a patent at the national or European level is done only if there is the intention of implementing the innovation, because it is very costly: thus the number and the citation of patents are used to capture the innovative behavior of firms.
Total Factor Productivity captures, instead, the unexplained effect on growth in production, which cannot be attributed to the increases in production inputs, and that capture the final effect of innovation.
The research was carried out along two broad lines:
- A first strand of research focuses upon the production of patents directly by foreigners. Thus it looks at the effect of more open legislation that favour the entrance of foreign migrants: e.g. in the USA H-1B visa policy, which facilitated the entrance of highly-skilled foreigners with higher education in Mathematics and Sciences and the variation in the number of patents registered by foreign nationals after the introduction of the norm.
The conclusion is that the more open but specific the visa policy is on highly skilled in Science and Technology, the more patents will be registered by foreigners.
This strand of research is in favour of a more open highly-skilled migration policy. The result is, however, conditioned for the USA, which is a special case. The USA is able, in fact, to attract highly-skilled workers in large numbers for the wage premium offered , the high probability of highly-skilled jobs, as well as the language, English, which reduces the initial cost of migration, not to mention the open nature of American society. This also increases the return of a move, which frequently has started before in the education phase.
Thus the results related to the US should be taken cautiously in Europe because they are limited to a very favorable context where the internal mobility of firms is impressively large.
- The second and broader direction of the research is, instead, upon the effect of migrant workers in the production at regional, sector or firm level on innovation measured both by patents and by TFP. The evidence in this strand of research is much broader with many country cases and international studies.
Highly-skilled migrants have a positive effect on the production or implementation of innovation. The analyses at local level show that diversity in national origin of workers leads to a positive impact. This though disappears at sector or frequently at firm level.
The diversity measure is very challenging because it is not only the total amount of migrants, but also its composition that is relevant for innovation.
If, on the one hand, the diversity index comes from the idea that there are complementary skills among migrants from different national backgrounds, the lack of strong evidence at firm and sector levels suggests a likely penetration of migrants of different origins in different sectors. These complement each other in the innovation process. More research in this field should be carried out to direct migration policy properly.
Any migration policy which favours the entrance of foreign citizens is thus beneficial, in general, for innovation at territorial, sector and firm level. The results on the beneficial effects of diversity are not yet universal and there is not enough evidence to justify changing the point system, which concentrates on the quality of the migrant- for a quota system which selects by nationality.
The general conclusion is that inflows of highly-educated migrants favour innovation but also the variety of origin of the migrants can play a positive role at least at the regional level. Thus a more open migration policy for the highly-skilled will prove positive for innovation.
For more, see the MPC Policy Brief Innovation and Human Capital: the Role of Migration (Venturini A., 2013)
By Alessandra Venturini, Deputy Director of the Migration Policy Centre and Professor of Political Economy at the University of Turin
The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre
There is a long-standing debate on the fiscal impacts of immigration and its effects on the welfare state. Proponents of relatively uncontrolled migration suggest that migration can help to resolve recent and future fiscal problems; migration is thus presented as a critical factor in the survival of the welfare system. Opponents claim that immigration breaks the very logic of the welfare system as a closed system with an important role of membership: they would argue for an exclusionary stance towards immigrants. In public debates immigrants are commonly blamed for burdening state and local budgets and for negatively affecting welfare payments and other services enjoyed by non-migrants.
Most empirical studies available conclude that immigrants use social welfare more than natives. Most of those differences, however, disappear when accounting for the structural characteristics of immigrants, and particularly for their labor market status. The overall net fiscal position of immigrants depends to some extent on their socio-demographic characteristics (age, skills, marital status, family status etc.). However, their status is also strongly system dependent: in countries with more flexible labor markets and relatively less generous welfare systems immigration affects the welfare system in a positive way. Empirical evidence proves that the problem often lies not in immigration itself but rather in the construction of the welfare system. Sometimes welfare systems are responsible for weak incentives to be economically active and for the creation of entry barriers into the labor market for immigrants through upward pressure on minimum wages. The structure of immigration and migration strategies influence the net fiscal position of immigrants (and at the same time they are shaped by the structure of the welfare system). Generally, the net fiscal impacts of immigration are small (+/- 1% of GDP) and they cannot explain the very heated public debate on that issue.
A review of the theoretical and empirical literature concerning the effects of immigration on welfare reveals a number of issues that are important in the policy–making context. First, many European countries will need more immigrants to sustain their welfare systems. Second, immigration policies need to be more selective (and not only with respect to age and skills) if countries want to maximize the positive impact of any inflow. Third, steps for legalization are critically important in improving the net fiscal position of immigrants. Fourth, labor market absorption remains one of the most important factors shaping both immigrants’ well-being as well as their net fiscal contributions. Last but not least, it is necessary to improve the efficiency of welfare policies, which often tend to put immigrants in the “poverty trap” rather than assimilating them out of the welfare.
This blog post is based on the new EUI Working paper “Are immigrants a burden for the state budget?” (Pawel Kaczmarczyk).
Pawel Kaczmarczyk, Former Robert Schuman Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre and Vice director of the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw
The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre
Boeri, Tito. 2010. Immigration to the Land of Redistribution. Economica 77(308): 651-687.
Borjas, George J. 1995. The Economic Benefits from Immigration. Journal of Economic Perspectives 9(2): 3–22.
Boeri, Tito, Hanson, Gordon and Barry McCormick (eds.). 2002. Immigration Policy and the Welfare System. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Collado, Dolores, Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Inigo, and Guadelupe Valera. 2004. Quantifying the Impact of Immigration on the Spanish Welfare State. International Tax and Public Finance 11: 335-353.
Dustmann, Christian, Frattini, Tommaso and Caroline Halls. 2010. Assessing the Fiscal Costs and Benefits of A8 Migration to the UK. Fiscal Studies 31(1): 1-41.
Hansen, Jorgen and Magnus Lofstrom. 2003. Immigrant Assimilation and Welfare Participation: Do Immigrants Assimilate Into or Out of Welfare? The Journal of Human Resources 38(1): 74-98.
Nannestad, Peter. 2007. Immigration and Welfare States: A Survey of 15 Years of Research. European Journal of Political Economy 23(2): 512-532.
OECD. 2013. The fiscal impact of immigration in OECD countries. In: OECD. International Migration Outlook. Paris: OECD.
Social remittances are ideas, know-how, norms, values, knowledge, behaviour, practices and skills that migrants bring home with them or that they send home from abroad. These can promote or deter development in home countries, (Levitt, 1998, 2001, and Levitt and Lamba-Nieves, 2011). Levitt (2001) argues that social remittances are, in fact, more important than financial remittances. She mentions four types of social remittances that are transferred from migrants to their home countries: norms, practices, identities and social capital.
Social remittances can be diffused by migrants as well as by refugees. They are transferred when migrants return or visit their home countries; when non-migrants visit their family and friends in the destination countries; or when a letter (or phone-call, fax, email, video…) is received (Levitt and Lamba-Nieves, 2011).
Social remittances do not only affect family relations, economic and social well-being, gender roles, class and race identity. They also have a substantial impact on political, social, cultural, economic and religious participation. They can challenge people’s ideas, beliefs and views about, among other things, democracy, politics, institutions, health, culture, society, religion, technology, science, business, economics, education, and gender issues.
A new EUI Working Paper (Akkoyunlu, 2013) addresses the effect of migration on women’s empowerment in Turkey, 1960-2011. The number of women in the Turkish parliament is chosen as a gauge of women’s empowerment and is explained by the emigration rate, the relative education of women to men, and by a measure of democracy. A particularly relevant study (Lodigiani and Salomone, 2012), finds that migration to countries with higher political empowerment for women significantly increases the share of women in parliament in the home country: this work is a major inspiration for Akkoyunlu (2013). However, their data cover 1960-2000 and migration data is available only by decade. The data in Akkoyunlu (2013) are annual and cover the post-2000 period, when there was a major shift upwards in terms of the parliamentary participation of women in Turkey.
The results of the study can be summarised thus:
- A 1% increase in the ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary schools increases women’s parliamentary share by 7%. This is a very large effect. A 1% increase in emigration rate increases, meanwhile, the share of women in parliament by 0.50%. This is also a significant impact. Thus, emigration contributes to women’s empowerment in Turkey. In addition, a 1% increase in the measure of democracy increases women’s parliamentary share by 0.25%, suggesting that democratization encourages the empowerment of women.
- The destination-specific effect of emigration on women empowerment is very important: Turkish emigration to the West encourages women’s empowerment in Turkey. The effect is striking. A one percentage point increase in migration to the EU and OECD countries increases the share of women in the Turkish parliament by 7 percentage points in the long-run, almost the same magnitude as the education variable. Turkish migration to the West conveys, to non-migrants in Turkey, values, norms, and practices that contribute to women’s empowerment as much as does the education of women. In contrast, emigration to Arab countries had comparatively less impact on women’s empowerment; likewise emigration to Russia and the CIS countries did not particularly affect women’s parliamentary share. Emigrants to Arab countries are more likely to support the religious parties and their ideologies in Turkey. Religious parties in Turkey, e.g. the Welfare Party, activated millions of women to circulate the party’s ideology by going door to door. But women did not have many places in the representative and administrative systems of the party. In fact, there was only one woman from the Welfare Party in parliament during the period examined here. This might explain the low impact of emigrants to Arab countries on women’s parliamentary share in Turkey.
- The results are robust for the inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees in the emigration data.
- The paper suggests that migration, and thus social remittances should be accepted as an important component in development for both sending and destination countries. Migrant women’s organisations or migrants’ organisations that seek to empower women in the destination countries should, according to Akkoyunlu, be supported and encouraged by destination country governments. These organisations should be linked to organisations in the home countries by the sending country governments. The author suggests too that more formal dialogues through conferences, seminars, and workshops should be established and strengthened between migrants and non-migrant communities by both sending and destination country governments and NGOs. Then, the social, political and cultural problems of the sending countries should be investigated and better understood by destination countries, and the migrants should be understood as a central element in understanding these problems. They offer solutions as well as contributing to non-migrant communities in the home countries through ideas and knowledge, not to mention through norms and values accumulated in host countries.
Şule Akkoyunlu, Robert Schuman Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre.
The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.
Akkoyunlu, S. (2013). Migration-Induced Women’s Empowerment: The Case of Turkey. EUI Working Paper RSCAS, MPC Series 2013/77.
Levitt, P. (1998). “Social Remittances: Migration Driven Local-Level Forms of Cultural Diffusion”. International Migration Review, 32(4), 926-948.
Levitt, P. (2001). The Transnational Villagers. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Levitt, P. and D. Lamba-Nieves (2011). “Social Remittances Revisited”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(1): 1-22.
Lodigiani, E. and S. Salomone (2012). Migration-induced Transfers of Norms. The Case of Female Political Empowerment, IRES Discussion Paper 2012-1.
To what extent are migration issues articulated in programs of political parties in the EU Eastern Partnership countries and in Russia?Posted: June 4, 2013
In post-Soviet states the impact of migration and induced social risks (brain-drain, aging, depopulation, etc) are now a reality. Yet, little is known about the extent to which migration rhetoric has evolved and penetrated into the political party programs of European Union’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries– Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine–, and in Russia.
The country experts of the CARIM-East project conducted a pilot examination of migration rhetoric in the programs of political parties of Russia and EaP countries in 2012 (Moldova in 2011). This policy brief is based on the comparative review of their research (see the bibliography below for detail).
In the late 1990s migration debate centred on dramatic emigration trends and brain-drain (Bobrova 2012, Chelidze 2012, Chobanyan 2012a, Mukomel 2012, Oprunenco 2012, Rumyansev 2012, Tolstokorova 2012). In the 2000s migration dynamics changed for some post-Soviet states. From emigration countries Ukraine, and recently also Georgia, became transit routes for migrants (Tolstokorova 2012, IOM 2008). In Azerbaijan the expansion of the energy and construction sectors attracted immigrants from Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, and post-Soviet Central Asian republics (IOM 2009). As migrants gradually established their residence in destination countries, migration debate refocused on the issues of integration and rights of migrants.
However, the programs of political parties of EU Eastern Partnership countries remained distant from realities of migration and provided little discussion of migration issues.
There are several patterns that emerge from comparative analysis:
1. Role of political parties limited, migration barely mentioned in party programs
In some countries, such as Azerbaijan and Belarus, the political impact of political parties is quite limited. In Azerbaijan, the New Azerbaijan Party has been the ruling party and has won the majority of seats in all parliamentary elections in the last 18 years since 1995 (Rumyansev 2012). In Belarus the number of political parties has decreased from 40 parties in 1990 (Bobrova 2012) to only 15 registered political parties in 2012 (Central Commission of the Republic of Belarus 2012). This trend is also evident in the parliament of Belarus.
The limited role of political parties in the political system largely shapes the extent of their impact and contribution to policy-making. In Azerbaijan migration issues have only barely been mentioned in the programs of political parties (Rumyansev 2012). The emphasis has been on the refugees and the internally displaced persons from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that have largely dominated the migration discourse in Azerbaijan (Rumyansev 2012). In Belarus, despite reference to human rights, ethnic non-discrimination, preservation of cultures of minorities, the revival of the culture of Belarussians, migration issues are barely mentioned (Bobrova 2012).
In these circumstances, it is the government that is the initiator of migration policies or the legislative reforms on migration. In Azerbaijan, for example, “[the] Members of the Parliament] … do not introduce anything new to the debate on migration” and “… laws [are] drafted by the government, the content of which as a rule is not seriously debated or criticized” (Rumyansev 2012:1).
2. Migration rhetoric typically problem-centred, not migration policy-centred
When migration issues are incorporated in the programs of political parties, then the emphasis is on trends and causes of migration rather than the migration policy itself. The migration debate remains heavily linked to domestic problems, such as socio-economic challenges (e.g. unemployment), demographic (e.g. low child-birth, depopulation) or is entangled with minority issues (integration, preservation of the titular nation and its culture, rights of ethnic groups or migrants). Here are a few examples:
In Armenia programs of political parties frequently used migration to accuse national authorities of Armenia for bad handling of country’s socio-political and economic development. The party programs frequently emphasized commitment to create new jobs and reduce emigration, halt depopulation by increasing the birth-rate, develop mechanisms to encourage return migration or repatriation of the diaspora (Chobanyan 2012a).
In Moldova, the Communist government (2001-2009 years) referred to migration as a “caprice” and failed to admit the high emigration of Moldovans and the poor economic conditions that caused this migration (Oprunenco 2012). Thus, such issues as the brain drain, risks and benefits of labour migration, rights of migrants were frequently included in the programs of opposition parties (Oprunenco 2012). And yet, as an apparent paradox, the Communist government of Moldova consolidated Moldova’s migration system, established bilateral cooperation on labour migration and adopted various policy programs targeted at engaging Moldovan labour migrants for Moldova’s economic development (Oprunenco 2012).
Russia and Ukraine (and also Belarus) have been favourite migrant destinations among the former Soviet states. Thus, here the migration rhetoric of political parties has been linked with ethno-politics and integration issues. In Ukraine migration issues proposed to the parliament have usually been confined to ethno-politics, and have been entangled with language and minority policies (Tolstokorova 2012). In this context the policy objectives on migration have been framed as conditional on solution of larger social challenges, such as diasporas, rights of ethnic minorities, national identity, etc, and such issues as the rights of Ukrainian migrants abroad, immigration of foreigners, brain drain have become only selectively emphasized, politically manipulated and have avoided targeted policy response (Tolstokorova 2012).
In Russia the public has been divided between pro-immigration and anti-immigration attitudes, so have the political parties (Mukomel 2012). Due to the expansion of the public support for radical nationalist and xenophobic attitudes in the 2000s, to retain their electoral support, some political parties, such as Just Russia, have taken a more moderate position on migration, others, such as Yabloko or the Right Cause have refocused their migration rhetoric on advocacy for ethnic/migrant tolerance and anti-nationalism, whereas the United Russia has even been reluctant to articulate a position on migration in its party program to not alienate their electorate (Mukomel 2012).
In some post-Soviet states more than in others political party programs have also debated the actual migration policy of the country, and have proposed legislation or a policy framework on migration. This has been rare in the South Caucasus and more prevalent in Russia and Ukraine where migration debate has largely been determined by the multi-ethnic structure of the society and has centred on the risks and benefits of inflow of migrants and the conditions of their integration in the society.
4. What next?
While the research of CARIM-East country experts focused on post-Soviet states with fragile democratic systems, migration is politicized also in West European consolidated democracies. But in emergent democracies where policy frameworks are new and still need to adopt to the country specificities to become effective, this political manipulation can lead to inaction in policy-making or result in frequent shifts of migration politics, allow xenophobic stereotypes to penetrate into policy decisions, can delay the economic development of the country and even make the country more receptive to external pressures on certain policies. For example, due to the highly politicized nature of migration, the political elites have often failed to adopt policies to potentially not be blamed for resulting migration trends, such as in Armenia, where the draft Law on Regulation of Overseas of Employment, drafted in 2001 and modified several times since then has to date not been adopted by the parliament of Armenia. In the opinion of the experts, “[t]he main reason for not adopting the Draft Law so far is mainly explained due to the cautious attitude of politicians towards migration issues, particularly, those, which are related to regulation of overseas migration, since the perception of general public is that the Government actions only would encourage emigration from Armenia” (Chobanyan 2012b: 3).
“This only confirms that that there is substantial role that the civil society and international organizations can play to increase the awareness about migration issues and the migration policy among the political actors and the society in large. To increase the emphasis on migration issues in political party programs, the civil society organizations could conduct advocacy campaigns to push the migration issues into agendas of political parties. This should also increase the involvement of multiple actors in migration policy-making. Second, this should also have a counter-balancing affect on political parties that use migration as an election card: the civil society can monitor that political parties remain consistent in positions on migration they take on the paper (in the party programs) vs. during elections and when they achieve power, and can expose those political parties that do not have a (consistent) position on migration policies” (Makaryan 2013:12-13).
Shushanik Makaryan, Former Research Assistant to CARIM-East, Faculty Affiliate at Population Research Institute of Pennsylvania State University, USA
The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.
The interested reader can also consult the comparative review by Makaryan (2013) or the detailed country-specific discussion for Armenia (Chobanyan 2012a), Azerbaijan (Rumyansev 2012), Belarus (Bobrova 2012), Georgia (Chelidze 2012), Moldova (Oprunenco 2012), Russia (Mukomel 2012), Ukraine (Tolstokorova 2012).
Bobrova, A. (2012). “The Role of Migration in the Political System of Belarus”, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 12/107, RSCAS: European University Institute, Italy.
Central Commission of the Republic of Belarus on Elections and Holding Republican Referenda. (2012a). Facts about Political Parties in Registered in the Republic of Belarus, per 25 June, 2012 (in Russian), accessed Feb. 7, 2012
Chelidze, N. (2012). “Migration in the Agendas/Programmes of Political Factions and Political Parties in the Parliament of Georgia, 2011“, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 12/34 RSCAS: European University Institute, Italy.
Chobanyan, H. (2012a) “Migration Rhetoric in Armenian Political Parties’ Programs“, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 12/102, RSCAS: European University Institute, Italy.
Chobanyan, H. (2012b) “Migration Emigration and Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia“, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 12/30, RSCAS: European University Institute, Italy.
IOM (2008) Migration in Georgia: A Country Profile 2008.
IOM (2009). Azerbaijan Labour Market Survey Report.
Makaryan, S. (2013) “Migration Rhetoric in Political Party Programs: Comparative Review of Case-Studies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine“. CARIM-East Research Report 2013/28, RSCAS: European University Institute, Italy.
Mukomel, V. (2012). “Migration Rhetoric in Program Documents of Russian Political Parties“, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 12/112, RSCAS: European University Institute, Italy.
Oprunenco, A. (2012). “Migration Issue in Programs and Platforms of Political Parties in Moldova“, CARIM-East Explanatory Note 11/21, RSCAS: European University Institute, Italy.
Rumyansev, S. (2012) “Political Parties and Problems of Migration in Azerbaijan” (in Russian), CARIM-East Explanatory Note 12/53, RSCAS: European University Institute, Italy.
Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company. (2011). Labor Party calls for blocking Readmission Treaty with EU, March 1, 2011, accessed March 10, 2013
Tolstokorova, A. (2012) “Migration Rhetoric in Programs of Political Parties of Ukraine” (in Russian) CARIM-East Explanatory Note 12/41,
Lessons from the earthquake in Haiti: A survey on the IDPs and on the resettled households (April 2012)Posted: May 7, 2013
The following is a summary of the research report n°3 of the ACP Observatory on Migration “Quelles Solutions Après le Séisme en Haïti: Une Enquête Auprès des Déplacés Internes” prepared by Youssef Courbage (BRIDES), Frantz Fortunat (BRIDES), Pierre Guedj (BRIDES) and Thibaut Jaulin (MPC-EUI) (ACPOBS/2013/PUB03).
The earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010 resulted in a great number of casualties and massive destruction, in particular in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, with an estimated 220 000 deaths, 300 000 injured and 1,5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). More than three years after the earthquake, in April 2013, the number of IDPs is estimated to be 320 000, scattered across 385 camps, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The living conditions in the camps are extremely difficult due to lack of hygiene and security, threat of expulsion, lack of resources, etc. The implementation of resettlement programs (T-shelter, reconstruction of houses, rental assistance) is complex, and such programs do not always meet the IDPs’ needs.
Following the recommendations of the National Consultative Council (NCC) in Haiti, the ACP Observatory on Migration commissioned a study on the IDPs’ human development and rights. The Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute (EUI), a member of the consortium of the ACP Observatory, coordinated the research project, and the Bureau de Recherche en Informatique et Développement Economique et Social (BRIDES), based in Port au Prince, conducted a survey among the IDPs.
The survey was carried out in March/April 2012. It compares the living conditions of three different groups: households in the camps, resettled households, and a control group. The survey focused on the camp of Sainte-Thérèse (Pétion-Ville), on a sample of resettled households (formally living in the camps of Place Boyer and Place Saint Pierre – Pétion-Ville); and on a sample of households living in the immediate neighbourhood of camp Saint-Thérèse (control group).
The study first focuses on demographic and socio-economic characteristics. Most indicators (with the exception of the education background) demonstrate that the IDPs in the camps are poorer than the other two groups. For example, IDPs in the camps have a higher percentage of women as the head of a household; the average size of the household is smaller due to the lack of space; fertility and mortality rates are higher; unemployment rate and proportion of informal employment are higher; emigration rate (internal and external) is higher; school attendance is lower; etc. Such results are due the impoverishment of the households in the camps and the over-representation of low-income households in the camps.
Moreover, the above-mentioned indicators improve among the resettled households, whose results are closer to that of the control group. It is noteworthy that the percentage of women who are the head of a household decreases among the resettled group, which indicates that men tend to return to their household after resettlement. Furthermore, the unemployment rate is lower among the resettled group, which indicate that resettlement is positively correlated with employment. However, it is noteworthy that the percentage of informal employment remains high among the resettled group, and that employment might actually pave the way to resettlement, rather than the contrary.
Furthermore, the study deals with sources of income and expenses. It confirms that few households can rely on a regular source of income, in particular in the camp, and that financial assistance from relatives in Haiti and abroad is a major source of income (and the first one for a significant proportion of households in all three groups). The survey also shows that resettled households face greater expenses than the control groups, in particular because most do not own their accommodation and pay a rent. Such result highlights a risk of impoverishment among the resettled group once exhausted the rental assistance provided for one year in the framework of resettlement programs.
In addition to the very difficult living condition in the camps, the study also sheds light on problems faced by the other groups, such as overcrowded accommodations, lack of running water and waste disposal, etc. Regarding health care, the survey shows that households in the camps usually choose public hospitals and community health centres, while the other groups choose private hospitals more frequently. It is noteworthy that women in the camp usually give birth in hospitals, while the proportion of women who give birth at home is higher in the other groups. However, access to antenatal health care is less common among women in the camps, in contrast with the other groups. Moreover, preventive practices against the cholera (e.g. washing hands) are widespread among all respondents, but a minority drink treated water, in particular in the camps. In addition, most of the respondents in the camps are aware of at least one case of cholera in their immediate environment.
The study also shows that the perception of security improves among the resettled group, in contrast with the camps, and that the former have a better opinion of NGOs’ actions. However, most respondents in all groups are not aware of the actions implemented by community organizations and, to a lesser extent, by NGOs. Finally, it is noteworthy that the main channel of information in the camps is the télédiol (word of mouth), while the other groups usually rely on the radio.
Based on these results, the authors make the following recommendations:
– To continue with the closure of IDP camps on the condition that resettlement solutions are found for each household;
– To maintain aid programs in the camps until solutions for resettlement are found;
– To develop resettlement programs tailored to the IDPs’ needs;
– To monitor the situation of resettled households;
– To support and organize urban development, in particular housing (including earthquake safety standards), basic infrastructure and public services (water, sanitation, waste disposal, public transports);
– To support community organizations, and promote NGOs’ communication with the population.
The ACP Observatory on Migration is an initiative of the ACP Secretariat, funded by the European Union and implemented by IOM with the financial support of Switzerland, IOM, the IOM Development Fund and UNFPA. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the author and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the other members of the Consortium of the ACP Observatory on Migration, the Swiss Federation or UNFPA.
Thibaut Jaulin, Former MPC Research Fellow
Undocumented immigration in the USA has historically been one of the hottest topics in the US politics, and has become one of the main pillars of election debates in the last four presidential elections. While each presidential administration has outlined various mechanisms to combat illegal migration, the pace of family reunifications and the new demands for low-skilled labor force have created unprecedented high volumes of undocumented population in the USA, that today accounts for estimated 11 mln. undocumented migrants — roughly 3.5% of the US total population.
Two immigration reform proposals were put into public debate in early February, 2013 in the USA– one by a bi-partisan group of democrat and republican senators, and the other by President Obama. Both proposals offer four components: (a) improvement of border control, (b) control on employers hiring illegal migrants, (c) earned citizenship to those migrants already in the country, and (d) promoting a legal migration policy (White House 2013; Bipartisan Framework 2013). Let’s compare both proposals.
Border Control: Despite doubling the number of border control guards, the US border crossings by illegal immigrants are still a vital problem. During 2009-2012 annually in each fiscal year law enforcement officers have removed around 47,000 migrants illegally crossing the border, whereas this number was up to around 70,000 persons for the fiscal year 2012. And in 2012 this was just 17% of the total of 400,000 removals due violations of law by immigrants. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement n.d.).
The bipartisan proposal takes a hard stance and sees part of the solution of border control in increased surveillance and higher number of aerial unmanned vehicles to guard the border. Both the President Obama’s and the bipartisan proposals offer to strengthen the border control infrastructure, improve the partnership between the law enforcement and border communities by increasing the funding and border control personnel, giving more training on civil rights and liberties to the staff of the Department of Homeland Security. Obama also aims to create new criminal penalties to combat trafficking and criminal networks on passport and visa fraud, increase the number of immigration court judges and their staff, and to deport criminals when their sentences end with no possibility to re-enter (White House 2013).
The bipartisan proposal also offers to track temporary entries in the USA by fostering the entry-exit registration–to identify whether migrants have left the country or not, something that perhaps sounds better on paper that is effective in practice.
One is left to wonder to what extent intensive investment in the border control will have tangible impact on undocumented migration. The 17% percent due to border violations, as stated earlier, can indicate that the border control does not have sufficient capacity to capture those who cross the US border illegally, which on its turn may explain the low percentage of border violators among those apprehended. Yet, a more plausible explanation is that most migrants enter the US legally, and then overstay their visas. This is especially true for those migrants who arrive not from Mexico, but from countries that do not share a border with the USA– such as illegal migrants from Asia, such as China, Vietnam, or Eastern Europe, the post-Soviet states, Middle East, etc. This also means that the stricter border control would have only limited impact. This is already evident in the same 2012 fiscal year statistics of immigration removals: the proportion of those who re-enter illegally is larger than those caught at the border– 21% of those removed were persons who were deported and then re-entered and were caught in the USA. Thus, the migration reform should be directed at finding flexible visa regimes that could regulate mobility of persons and prevent them from seeking an illegal entry or a stay in the destination country.
Employment of Undocumented Migrants: The Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA) of 1986, one of the achievements of President Regan administration, made it illegal for companies to knowingly hire migrants who were in the country illegally (Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2012a). Since then employers are subject to a monetary penalty of $375 to $16,000 for per violation (Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2012a). However, as illegal immigration has expanded in the USA since then, it became clear that employment documents were easily falsifiable, and the mechanisms to punish employers were inefficient. Until 2006 no employer was punished for hiring an undocumented migrant (Immigration and Customs Enforcement cited in Washington Post 2013), whereas during Obama Presidency only in fiscal year 2012 more than 370 businesses were sanctioned for violations of illegal hiring (Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2012b).
Today there are estimated 11 million. To fight against employers who hire illegal migrants, both proposals offer to introduce a mandatory electronic system for employers –connected to the federal database– to verify whether the migrant is allowed to work in the USA. Obama will fight against illegal hirings through a “labor law enforcement fund” he suggests to create. Moreover, both proposals offer to create a fraud and tamper resistant social security card for employment authorization, and increase the penalties for hiring illegal migrants.
Citizenship and Permanent Residency: Since deporting 11 million illegal migrants is not realistic, both proposals offer very similar mechanisms for the integration of undocumented migrant. Moreover, the US citizenship or permanent residency statuses are made pre-conditional on a probationary status before an immigrant can be eligible to apply. These provisions sounds attractive to undocumented migrants in the USA as these changes will finally create a legal platform for rights and civic citizenship of migrants, and create prospects for their social mobility in the society. Namely, naturalization, or what Obama has called in his proposal “pathway to earned citizenship”, is pre-conditional for immigrants first giving up their undocumented status and registering, submitting biometric data, going through a criminal background check and paying penalties and dues they owe to the USA. This will give migrants no more than a provisional legal status. Those wishing to be considered for permanent residency, must also pay taxes, learn English language and only after five years, consistent with the current procedure, they will be eligible to apply for citizenship. Funding will be provided to appropriate agencies to conduct regular audits for fraud prevention. In the bipartisan proposal, these immigrants on probationary status (that were previously undocumented migrants) will not be eligible for federal public benefits, have to also show history of work and current employment before they become eligible to apply for permanent residency.
In Obama’s proposal children of undocumented migrants will be eligible for earned citizenship by either going to college or serving in the Army for 2 years.
The bi-partisan proposal calls for preferential treatment of undocumented migrants in the agriculture sector. Given the high demand for labour force in the agriculture and due to the delays in getting a guest-worker status, majority of workers in the US agriculture sector are undocumented. The report by the American Farm Bureau Federation (2006) stated that the “[US] agriculture is the most dependent on migrant labor”, and the production of up to 5-9 billion US dollars of import-sensitive commodities “would be lost”, and 10-20 percent of fruits and vegetables would have to be imported from other countries. Given these considerations, undocumented migrant-workers in the agriculture “will be treated differently than the rest of the undocumented population… and earn a path to citizenship through a different process under our new agricultural worker program”– states the bipartisan proposal.
Family Re-Unification and High-Skilled Labor: Both President Obama’s and the bipartisan proposals offer several facilitated mechanisms for family or employment-sponsored immigration. To get rid of the backlog visas that hinder family reunification, Obama offers to temporarily increase annual visa quotas and to double the annual country caps for family sponsored immigration; and create additional visas for employment-sponsored immigration system. This is in addition to encouraging permanent residency visas for foreign entrepreneurs and investors. Both proposals acknowledge that graduate students educated in the USA in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM programs) should be eligible for automatic green card: in Obama’s terms a green card should be “stapled” to the diplomas if persons have found an employment in the USA. This latter clause is a big change from the past practice when only jobs in the academia qualified for a green card application without a quota, otherwise, the recent Ph.D. or Master’s graduates were subject to a quota system on green card if their post-graduate job was outside of the academic sector.
What to Conclude? The most important achievement of both proposals is that finally both the liberal and conservative policy-makers have offered similar mechanisms to solving migration policy gaps in the United States. While the bi-partisan proposal lays out the major principles around which the immigration reform should be designed, the Obama proposal is somewhat more concrete and offers specific steps to four issues mentioned above. As a shortcoming, both proposals rely on an even increased public spending and expanded bureaucracy to combat migration (primarily on tracking entry-exit of temporary migrants, border control and surveillance, document fraud, etc). Yet the only real solution to undocumented migration is the improvement of the visa system and the reduction of paperwork and bureaucracy on obtaining a family reunification or guest worker visas– the two main sources of US illegal migration.
Both proposals also stop short of mentioning any further steps for migrant integration. In both proposals the target seems to be only at the entry points– entry into the US border, entry into the US labour market legally, entry into the US citizenship body. Yet, none of the proposals mentions how to ensure that migrants not only obtain a legal/documented status at entry stage, but also be able to retain their membership to the US society and not become marginalized. When only 17% of immigration removals from the US are due border violations for fiscal year 2012, another appalling 55% comprise aliens caught for committing criminal offences in the USA– i.e. felons or repeat offenders (Immigration and Customs Enforcement n.d.). Can there be a stronger indicator that more policies should focus on marginalized migrants and aim to create opportunities for their integration into the US society?
Yet the US immigration reform remains unbalanced: Ironically, neither proposals mention any simplification for obtaining permanent residency or citizenship for already legal migrants in the USA who have lived in the USA for many years as lawful nor tax-paying citizens, some have even been educated in the USA. Despite their contribution and investment in the US society these persons and their families, by following the established procedure, may get permanent residency or citizenship even later than the undocumented migrants who have lived in the shadow of the US society and economy. The bureaucratic rules and procedures will remain unchanged for these already legal migrants.
What Lessons Can European Policy-Makers Learn? Border control reforms are not sufficient for combating undocumented migration. Migrants will always find alternative ways to enter the country. Moreover, if visa policies are not harmonized with labour-market demands, such as the timely issuance of work visas or work-permits, the labour demand will continue to encourage undocumented migration. And finally, as number of migrants increases globally, family reunification more than ever becomes an important factor for migrants. Thus, all migration policy reforms in Europe should pair stricter border controls with creating facilitated travel and mobility regimes for migrants to prevent migrants from seeking illegal alternatives of travel. Visa facilitation initiatives are a good starting point, but not enough. Integration of migrants at destination countries andat sending countries is as important as creating flexible visa regimes for travel. Integrated migrants are more likely to contribute to social institutions both in home countries and in destination countries. Integration in home countries reduces the chances of a migrant to overstay their visas in the host country. Integrated migrants who obey laws also socialize about migrant culture future potential migrants, such as their children and future generations. These steps can achieve larger positive systemic outcomes than any “dry” border control policy ever will.
Shushanik Makaryan, Research Assistant to CARIM-East
The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.
American Farm Bureau Federation. 2006. Impact of Migrant Labor Restrictions on the Agricultural Sector, February, 2006.
Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. 2013. Authors: Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (n.d.) Removal Statistics: Factsheet, February 6, 2013
Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 2012a. Form I-9 Inspection Overview: Fact Sheet, August 1, 2012. Downloaded on February 6, 2013.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 2012b. Worksite Enforcement: Fact Sheet. May 23, 2012. Downloaded on February 6, 2013.
Washington Post. 2013. Why Immigration Reform in 1986 Fell Short?, February 3, 2013, by Karen Tumulti, Feb. 4, 2013
White House (The). Office of the Press Secretary. Factsheet. Fixing our Broken Immigration System so that Everyone Plays by the Rules. January 29, 2013.
Between Solidarity and the Priority to Protect – Where Refugee Relocation meets Refugee ResettlementPosted: February 18, 2013
As resettlement in Europe continues to evolve, its effectiveness in responding to humanitarian emergencies and long term refugee situations beyond EU territory has been challenged by difficulties which are related to how EU Member States answer the question – What does the resettlement of refugees consist of?
Solidarity of Member States with third states is perhaps best demonstrated through resettlement while relocation is an example of internal Member State solidarity. There is a need to define both of these terms. It has been made clear by the Commission in its Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on the establishment of a joint EU resettlement programme (page 3) that, unlike resettlement which is considered a humanitarian enterprise concerned with solidarity with third countries, relocation is a ‘burden sharing’ exercise, at the heart of which is solidarity between EU Member States north and south.
The Know Reset project has considered how this defined difference does not prevent Member States from allowing overlap between these two distinct undertakings. The importance of access to protection for refugees prompted the EU to begin to explore more feasible methods by which refugees may be taken by Member States and given protection. These refugees did not therefore have to gain access to Union territory. This resettlement was widely regarded as being in solidarity with the European neighbourhood – especially non-Member States to the south.
As resettlement evolved the idea of this external solidarity became somewhat confused by expressions of internal solidarity. Those persons who gained access to Member State territory through ‘irregular’ means and later became refugees have, in certain circumstances, been relocated to other Member States. Most of these clandestine arrivals have been to Mediterranean Member States who have found themselves under intense strain from such migration. As an act of solidarity, Member States have taken refugees from their fellow Member State.
The following is a table of those EU Member States which have relocated under the EUREMA programme in Malta according to the EASO report on that programme. This relocation programme is an intra-European initiative which takes internationally protected individuals from one Member State and finds another Member State willing to accept these individuals.
*Denotes Member States which have committed to relocate refugees as part of the EUREMA programme but have yet to do so.
Relocation from Malta is on-going and uptake in participation has increased. The word which arises time and time again among the States which participate is solidarity. The States which participate are, more often than not, northern EU Member States. They are not on the receiving end of the heavy migration flows which reach the southern, Mediterranean Member States. On that basis, relocation from the Mediterranean to their own State is seen as an act of solidarity.
The tension arises through certain Member States, typically those which are most experienced in resettlement, calling into question whether relocation comes at the expense of resettlement. Resettlement undoubtedly remains the preferable response to those most in need. The priority to protect those who have not been able to gain access to European territory should remain the primary objective in the view of certain Member States.
Malta, the home of the EASO, has been the venue of the aforementioned EU relocation pilot project – EUREMA. An emerging role of the EASO is in evaluating the relocation pilot project as can be seen from the EASO’s September newsletter.
It has become clear that there may be a risk of using relocation as a substitute for resettlement. This is a misperception that the EU, Member States and the EASO must be mindful of in participating in refugee relocation in Europe. The friction between relocation and resettlement indeed points to the greater challenges in achieving a functioning and effective solidarity within the Common European Asylum System.
In July of 2012, the EASO released a fact finding report on intra-EU relocation activities from Malta. Respondents to the report expressed “mixed” views on relocation:
“While a number of participating States maintained that voluntary ad hoc relocation measures with Malta were a concrete tool for demonstrating intra-EU solidarity, and generally assessed them positively, other States feared that …relocation …could act as a pull factor for irregular migration…”
“…concerns were expressed about the possible implication of relocation on the resettlement quotas in the EU. It was stressed that intra-EU relocation should not be confused with resettlement of refugees from third countries.”
The EASO here underline what must be a pivotal consideration if the resettlement of refugees in Europe is to increase quantitatively and qualitatively. As part of our research we have recorded reaction to relocation across the twenty-seven EU Member States. Interesting perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of relocation have been gathered and provide an insight into State behaviour.
Differing attitudes were identified among Member States toward relocation – some advocate for it, certain States are opposed to it and still others seem not to differentiate completely between relocation and resettlement.
Of those States which express doubt as to the use of relocation, a Swedish opinion on the matter was expressed in an interview by Know Reset with a political adviser to the Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy. That adviser stated that Sweden is doubtful as to the use of relocation; it was stated that the places used for relocation should instead be used for resettlement from outside the EU. The interviewee went on to state that there were alternative measures of solidarity which could be pursued if Member States wanted to express their solidarity. Finland is of a similar disposition to their Scandinavian neighbours. Finland and Sweden represent two traditional resettlement countries. Both States have well established and large resettlement on a programme basis. Another interesting emerging viewpoint from our research in Scandinavia is that the Member States to the north often do not accept that reducing the pressure on its southern counterparts should be a legitimate aim. This sentiment should be considered in the context of the northern Member States believing that they already take a considerable share of the so-called ‘burden’ of refugee numbers. This is interesting when it is considered how often intra-EU solidarity is proffered by certain Member States as a reason for pursuing relocation.
Slovakia does not conduct resettlement but has announced that it intends to participate in relocation. Hungary is in a similar position. Lithuania committed in 2011 to relocate from Malta but that declaration has yet to be implemented. A trend for certain States is emerging that if they do not participate in resettlement, they may instead be involved in relocation. The overwhelming reason given for this is that of solidarity with EU partners to the south. If those countries were not involved in relocation, would they be resettling refugees? This question is impossible to answer definitively however a tendency has emerged for newer Member States, which are oftentimes new to refugee resettlement as well, to primarily pursue relocation as an avenue of EU solidarity in terms of refugee intake.
Finally, there also exists a grey area in between preferences for resettlement and preferences for relocation. Ireland and France typify this intermediary position. Refugees whom arrive to the State as part of a relocation regime may be included in the quota of that State for refugee resettlement. The need to differentiate between relocation and resettlement is particularly salient in this context.
The overwhelming message to be gleaned is that the relocation of refugees within Europe must not come at the expense of resettlement. Resettlement, the humanitarian enterprise, underlines the priority to protect. Taking refugees from third States beyond the Union which are host to much larger numbers of refugees is taking the most vulnerable and giving them an opportunity that they otherwise will not receive. Protection must be the priority and as difficult as conditions are within certain Member States for refugees, if they are at least properly protected then it is still a fortunate situation in comparison to the precarious position of many refugees in camps across the world.
The EASO can play a role in ensuring that relocation is not carried out at the expense of granting resettlement to those refugees who are eligible for resettlement and who are still at risk and should be a protection priority. National authorities should also be aware of the distinction and the importance of not putting protection priorities behind the commendable desire to express solidarity with other Member States. This balance must always be at the forefront of any consideration of relocation.
This article is based on the results of the research led within the framework of the KNOW RESET project.
The Know Reset team recently teamed up with the EASO Monitor blog in considering the EASO’s growing role in resettlement in Europe. The thanks of the Know Reset team goes to Dr. Neil Falzon and everyone at Aditus and the EASO monitor for the original collaboration.
Frank Mc Namara, Research Assistant to Know Reset.
The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.
When EU countries visualise an ideal immigrant, a highly-skilled and educated immigrant comes to mind. For many, the highly-skilled and skilled represent the only ´legitimate´ form of immigration. EU immigration policy in its current form is characterised by three main dimensions: attracting highly-skilled workers, deterring irregular migration, and promoting the integration of third country nationals. The EU approach is one of increased migration management so that Europe receives legal migration, particularly in sectors that are lacking in personnel. The increased emphasis on cooperation both with countries of origin and between Member States, as reflected in the Global Approach to Migration adopted in 2011, is part of this drive to more efficiently manage migration. EU migration policy is therefore implicitly based on the assumption that low-skilled labor is no longer needed, and indeed, would be harmful to the European economy at a time of economic crisis and high unemployment, especially among youth. Low-skilled workers receive little attention at the EU level, with the exception of seasonal workers and in some bilateral agreements with individual EU countries. But is low-skilled immigration always unwelcome? A case study of low-skilled employment in the Italian dairy industry reveals that immigrants from the Punjab region of India have successfully inserted themselves into this sector of the Italian economy, without ´stealing´ jobs from native Italians.
How did Immigrants Manage to Enter into the Dairy Sector and convert it into an economic niche?
The dairy industry in Italy is the most important sector of Italian agriculture, with an annual turnover of 15 billion Euros in 2011 (all dairy products), including 2 billion Euros worth of cheese exports. In Italy, dairy consumption is ´recession proof´, with Italians continuing to consume dairy products, including high-quality DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) dairy products, despite the slowing of the Italian economy. Indeed, 87% of Italians consider their national DOP cheeses to be the foundation of the ´Made in Italy´ brand. Indians have thus inserted themselves in a sector that is not only economically important, but also key to Italian identity. Dairy work has since become a Punjabi niche market, with 90% of the workers in this sector estimated to be Indian. According to 2008 data from Istat, (the Italian Institute of Statistics), 42.9% of Indians work in the agricultural sector in the Lombardy region, compared to only 2.8% of the total foreign population, showing a marked tendency for Indians to concentrate in agriculture, particularly in Northern Italy.
The socioeconomic context leading to the Italian exodus from cow milking provides the background necessary to understanding how a low-skilled immigrant group has been able to enter and dominate a key domestic industry. A number of factors led to this Italian exodus from the dairy sector. The mechanisation of the industry beginning in the 1950´s led to a sharp reduction in the number of jobs available, forcing Italian youth to look for work elsewhere. Secondly, the economic boom that Italy experienced in the post-war period led to new aspirations that working in the cascine (dairy farms) could not fulfill. In particular, the houses on the cascine were increasingly abandoned in favor of more modern urban housing. Finally, the low social status associated with cow milking was an additional incentive to look for other work, even when the salary was raised and working conditions improved considerably with mechanisation. Male bergamini (cow milkers) could not find local marriage partners and had to resort to finding spouses from other Italian regions. This native exodus from dairy milking led to demand for a reliable and steady source of labour that could replace Italian workers. In the region of Lombardia, the agricultural sector is distinguished, unlike in other parts of Italy, by the need for a specialised, stable and ´regular´ (i.e. legally documented) workforce that is highly available, in order to be able to adapt themselves to the demanding rhythms of a dairy farm and avoid high turn-over, which would harm productivity. Immigrant labour from India has met this demand for specialised labour that does not require a high level of education. The need for a dependable, ´regular´ workforce has meant that work in the dairy industry has avoided the systematic abuses and severe exploitation characteristic of Italian agriculture in other regions. Sources from the largest Italian union, the CGIL (Conferazione Generale Italiana di Lavoro), have indicated that the vast majority of immigrant workers in this sector possess legal contracts.
The Italian dairy industry is therefore a good example of the continuing need for low skilled third country labour in certain sectors of the European economy. Nor is it the only example: the area of geriatric care is another sector in which immigrant labour has proved to be critical, without harming national employment. While EU expansion can absorb some labour shortages, it cannot be assumed that all occupations will benefit from EU enlargement. In the UK, where migration policy has been completely closed to low-skilled workers (including in the case of temporary labour shortages), restaurant owners, especially from the ´ethnic´ restaurant sector, have raised concerns about the unfairness of a points-based immigration system that only considers skilled workers who possess formal qualifications. The need for low-skilled labour is structural and continues to exist despite high rates of unemployment across Europe. In the case of the Italian dairy industry, native workers have spurned this sector despite its relatively high salaries, as well as other perks, such as free accommodation and ample opportunity to earn more via working overtime. The current thinking that accepts that third country nationals are needed in certain high skilled occupations in order for Europe to remain competitive, must also be extended to specific low-skilled sectors. EU migration policy should therefore take into consideration a sectoral approach when seeking to attract third-country nationals to the EU. Promoting only highly-skilled migration misses out on a number of sectors that need low-skilled immigrant labour in order to continue to thrive. Creating more opportunities for legal low-skilled migration can also contribute towards preventing irregular migration. Low-skilled does not mean ´no skill´, and can also be a pathway to other forms of employment, particularly entrepreneurship, in the future. Indeed, an increasing number of Punjabis who initially worked in the dairy sector are now establishing their own small businesses across Northern Italy.
Kathryn Lum, Research Assistant to CARIM-India
The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.
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