Does migration policy push innovation? Yes, it does!

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

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Are immigrants a burden for the state budget?

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

Selected readings:

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.


How migrants’ social remittances have empowered women in Turkey?

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.

References:

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.


Readmission Policy: where is the carrot though?

The proclaimed new EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) presents important contradictions: while it seeks to facilitate and organise the legal mobility of Third Country Nationals and to ensure that TCNs in need of international protection, receive it, it also aims at strong border controls and particularly emphasises readmission policies.  In this short piece we look at past experience on readmission cooperation with Albania and at the current readmission ‘hot potato’ notably cooperation with Turkey.

The readmission of irregular migrants and refugees who entered the EU territory constitutes one of the biggest challenges that EU neighbouring countries are confronted with. There are cases of third countries who have been re-admitting large numbers of irregular migrants (including own nationals) and potential asylum seekers. For instance, the visa liberalization between the EU and Albania, which has been in force since January 2011, has been a ‘reward’ for, among other things, a good record of readmissions of its own nationals from Greece over the years. This is an example of how collaboration works even though considerable policy gaps in the re-integration of readmitted Albanians are identified, e.g. there is hardly any assistance for them to find a job and/or reintegrate in their communities of origin, so that they would not try to cross the border illegally again.

There are, however, also third countries whose readmission record is rather problematic. A case in point is Turkey and its failure to implement the Re-admission Protocol that it has signed nearly a decade ago with Greece. During the period 2006-2010, Greece had filed 3,431 readmission requests to Turkey, in the context of this Protocol, concerning 62,816 people. Of those 7,359 were accepted for readmissions by Turkish authorities, but only 1,281 were effectively re-admitted to Turkey.

It is our contention that a successful readmission policy has to look closer into the political economies of the third country in question, notably Turkey, in order to understand its capacity and eagerness or reluctance to implement the Readmission Protocol and to tackle irregular migration flows with a view of arguing convincingly about the visa facilitation or visa exemption altogether.

The visa liberalization between the EU and Albania, which has been in force since January 2011, mainly offers Albanians the opportunity to seek short-term and seasonal informal work in Greece (Maroukis and Gemi 2011). Indeed such a strategy fits well with the political economy of Albania. Offering its citizens the opportunity to travel legally and work informally in neighbouring Greece eases the pressure from rising unemployment, a welfare regime under pressure and an economy that lacks basic infrastructure for achieving better distributional effects from the insertion of FDI over the last decade in the country.

The case of Turkey is not so straightforward. Commenting on the recent initiative by the Austrian government to discard the requirement of competence in German for Turkish citizens when applying for a residence permit for the purposes of family unification, the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs Egemen Bağış characteristically stated “they [EU member states] are welcome to go ahead if they plan to carry out some sort of facilitation of the visa process. But what Turkey deserves is a visa exemption[1].

Although the external anchor of EU membership has functioned during most of the 2000s as a powerful incentive for Turkey to proceed with substantial political and economic reforms (Öniş 2012), Turkey’s economic growth record so far has given ground to the ‘’apparently paradoxical conclusion that whether Turkey becomes a member or not will not have such a dramatic impact on the quality of its economic performance and the nature of its democratic regime’’ (Öniş & Bakır 2007: 161-2). However, a key variable behind Turkey’s economic and political (in)stability in the coming years is the way Turkey addresses its developmental and re-distributional challenges.

The highly fragmented and hierarchical corporatist social security system in Turkey providing health and pension benefits only to formally employed individuals coexists with a labour market structure where self-employment, unpaid family labour and informal employment practices are very important (Buğra and Keyder 2006). Part of Turkey’s informal economic activities is migrant smuggling. Significant marginalised segments of Turkish society and marginalised regions (especially in the South-East) have been earning a living from this illegal activity (Triandafyllidou and Maroukis 2012, Danis 2006, Icduygu 2004), alleviating thus the pressure from the re-distributional inequalities (often tinted with political colours, e.g. the Kurdish issue) that the Turkish political economy faces.

For Turkey to engage into an effective readmission policy and for an effective dismantling of irregular migration networks, the EU needs to achieve better knowledge and understanding of how these are intertwined in Turkey’s socio-economic structure. What works with Albania as a visa regime might not work for Turkey. The incentives for Turkey may be different also because the bulk of third country nationals that it would have to re-admit are not its own nationals.  Hence, the carrot that the EU has to offer is a wider regime of visa exemption, plus human resources and technical know-how assistance that would help Turkey build a more effective border management system at the Turkish eastern borders. Such a ‘carrot’ would make the ‘stick’ (notably readmissions and the dismantling of the migrant smuggling networks) worth it and would provide a more durable answer to the challenge of irregular migration flows from Asia to Europe via Turkey and Greece. 

For more information, read: Triandafyllidou, Anna and Maroukis, Thanos (2012) Migrant Smuggling. Irregular migration from Asia and Africa to Europe, London: Palgrave, http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=494431

Thanos Maroukis, Marie Curie Research Fellow, Bath University

Anna Triandafyllidou, Professor, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute

The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.


[1] http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=278495


Russia and its migration policy – here at last?

Since 1991, the Russian Federationhas gradually become one of the most important migration receiving countries in the world. Migration to Russiais mainly regional: ca. 1.5 million citizens of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries work officially in the country, and many more work as non-registered temporary migrants. Russia’s economy needs migration: its competitiveness and innovation ambitions depend on the input of high and mid skilled workers; its productivity depends also on the low-skilled workforce. In the context of  an unprecedented demographic decline (according to Rosstat forecasts, employable population will decline at the pace of over 1 million a year in 2012-2017 and 0.5 million on average 2018-2025, see Iontsev and Ivakhnyuk 2012) and relatively high emigration rates, migration is the rational tool that could save Russia’s future. However, it is also the source of strong social tensions, not least because the crushing majority of migrant workers in Russia come from Central Asian countries and, thus, belong to visible minorities. Internal migration from Northern Caucasus to big cities such as Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg is also seen as problematic, due to the politicized security reasons as well as the Islamic faith of the newcomers.

The overall situation has not been helped by the fact that until now Russia has had a mixed record as regards the objectives and implementation methods of its international migration policy. During the 1990s it engaged in quite a  successful migration policy, supporting massive people movements following the fall of the Soviet Union: refugees, IDPs and so-called “compatriots” (ethnic Russians). The problematic shift from an open, welcoming approach to more securitized one occurred when the institutional change – a move from a socially-oriented ministry to the security-oriented ministry – took place with the responsibility for migration put in the hands of the Federal Migration Service created in 2004 under the auspices of the ministry of interior. This shift also brought to the front Russia’s struggle to define its immigration policy linked to its developing labour market.

Apparently something is due to change now. On 13 June 2012, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, signed the new Concept of the National Migration Policy of the Russian Federation until 2025. The document, proposed by the Federal Migration Service, introduces several changes to the status quo:

–          Migration has been finally defined as a positive force in the future of the country that can stimulate population growth and economic development.

–          Integration is now a building block of Russian migration policy.

–          Permanent migration will be now facilitated through new, simpler and cheaper procedures for entry, stay and employment.

–          Social rights of migrants have been officially acknowledged, including issues like access to health care and medical insurance.

–          Internal migration is now encouraged (this is important in the context of internal migrations from e.g.North Caucasus).

Interestingly, we find in the document some traces of the EU-Russia dialogue on migration issues, as e.g. proposals for externalisation of Russia policy bears a clear EU mark.

Will the new policy succeed? Well, the devil is always in the details – and here the details are twofold. Firstly, the idea needs to be translated into a consistent legal framework. No one really knows how much will be left from the concept in the binding rules. Moreover, it will all depend on its implementation. All this looks quite tricky.

First of all, the change of tone comes in a clear contradiction to the moods of the society: over 70% of the respondents of regular public opinion surveys of WCIOM see immigration as a problem. This attitude is, on one hand, a result of a decade of a messy policy and politics of  the Russian government, which used immigration matters to political ends, often depicting migrants as internal enemies (e.g. Georgians in 2008 during the Georgian-Russian war or Tajiks in2011 inthe aftermath of the arrest of Russian pilots in Tajikistan). On the other hand, the anti-immigrant attitudes have been growing inRussiaalready in the 1990s, when stereotypes and negative views on native inhabitants of ex-Soviet republics were brought along by “compatriots” returning to the motherland.

Secondly, the relaxed attitude towards migration policy to date has been bringing a lucrative business to the officials and civil servants of various local institutions. As the work of Memorial shows, the migrants have been particularly vulnerable to the discretionary decision-making, starting from the border crossings to obtaining of a legal status. Wide spread corruption and regular disregard for the migrants’ rights has been a norm rather than an exception.

Considering the reality of the Russian system of power and its mixed record of implementing policy concepts, we should be very cautious to claim an immediate positive change.

Oleg Korneev, Jean Monnet Fellow to CARIM East

Agnieszka Weinar, Scientific Coordinator of CARIM East and MIGMEDCIS

The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.


Schengen Visa Facilitation system’s failure in ‘facilitating’ mobility of highly skilled migrants

To date the Schengen visa facilitation system set up by the European Union is turning out to be a failure in ‘facilitating’ visas for highly skilled migrants, according to recent MPC research conducted in Ukraine and Moldova. Instead of facilitating applications, current visa facilitation procedures deter mobility due to ineffective implementation practices . Originally this system was created with the intention of promoting interaction between EU citizens and contracting States by facilitating the issuance of visas for a short stay for a selected group of countries including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and the Russian Federation[i]. But alas, it is not an ideal world hence facilitation practices may not actually coincide with the idealised processes. Within official EU discourses, highly-skilled migrants are considered a positive component required for maintaining the EU’s global competitiveness. This is reflected in the categories of people included in the visa facilitation agreements, and the idea of the Blue Card[ii]. Unfortunately, highly skilled migrants are still being considered as potential irregular workers or illegal visa overstayers.

MPC’s preliminary research has highlighted the experience of highly skilled migrants who come from Ukraine and Moldova[iii]. It has emerged that the reality of the visa facilitation system seems to be very different from what was planned by the EU. Instead of being considered, by default, as ‘bona fide’ travellers, the onus is put on highly skilled migrants to prove that they are not requesting a visa for illegal purposes. Though the costs of visa application and number of documents have reduced, it is but a minor change. The main frustration lies with the cumbersome delays, lack of knowledge of relevant policy tools, lack of transparency in decision process, additional costs related to external service providers and possibly inappropriate working practices of consulate officials.

EU wishes to create a ‘European Research Area’[iv]. It intends to “enable researchers, research institutions and businesses to increasingly circulate, compete and co-operate across border”[v] and enable research and development in a transnational perspective. In addition, the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research[vi], the DG Education and Culture[vii], the DG Development and Cooperation[viii] and other EU frameworks such as the EU Visa Code[ix] wish to promote more innovation and research through transnational mobility of researchers and academics.

All these policy tools clearly wish to promote cutting-edge research and training in the EU. The failure of applying effective practices lies partly with the European Commission which has not been effective in supervising the implementation of these policy tools by the respective Member States. One cannot expect a visa officer sitting in an outpost office in the EU neighbourhood countries to know the link between all these policy tools and visa facilitation agreements. Responsibility for this inefficiency of implementation lies with the respective host country’s Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Education. These bodies should communicate and coordinate with each other for these policy tools to be effectively  implemented.

Furthermore highly skilled migrants should not be seen solely through the perspective of economic benefits for the host EU countries. Immigrants can integrate into the host society and at the same time sustain a thriving social and professional link with their home country. Regrettably, these crucial links are the ones getting severely affected due to the multiple discrepancies between the clauses of the visa facilitation agreement and their implementation by particular member states. For example, families visiting a highly skilled migrant in the EU have to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of visa application every time they wish to visit their relatives. A vast majority of highly skilled migrants from Ukraine and Moldova are not even aware that their close family members can apply for a multiple-entry visa if they have previously visited their family member. Similarly, highly skilled migrants, who are invited for conferences or short training programmes in the EU, decide not to attend due to the cumbersome and expensive visa application process. This situation negatively impacts EU-based companies and research institutions, hampering the flow of  highly skilled migrants throughout the continent. In the research conducted by MPC, it has emerged that in many instances the visa officials arbitrarily decide on visa applications. This lack of transparency and arbitrariness of application decision-making process puts the credibility of the whole procedure in question.

Though a visa-free regime is still an elusive dream for the EU Neighbourhood countries, some changes in the policy can make a positive difference and promote mobility of highly skilled migrants. MPC’s research has provided some recommendations as given below:

–          Implementation of the Visa Code should be accompanied by binding legal guidelines agreed within local Schengen cooperation that will end the discretion of the Schengen Members states in the following areas – the lists of supporting documents; the length of visa procedures; and the mode of lodging the application (via an outsourcing centre or in person).

–          Introduction of special procedures for frequent travellers: maximum term multiple-entry visas, special windows for express procedures, legal minimum of the documents needed.

–          Full information to be provided to applicants on their rights granted both by the Visa Code and Visa Facilitation Agreements both on the consulates’ website and available in print in one’s own language within the visa centres.

–          The possibility of appealing against the decision on a visa in one’s own language following a clear transparent procedure.

–          Pilot visa-free regime for biometric passport holders.

–          Pilot visa-free regime for individuals involved in cross-border EU programmes and projects.

The current visa facilitation situation is turning out to be counterproductive due to the failure of the European Commission and Member States in the proper and thorough implementation of the relevant policy tools as mentioned in our discussion above. This not only adversely impacts the political image of EU but also has high economic costs. The status quo needs to be changed urgently to ensure that the EU’s dream of having ‘people-to-people contact’ does not remain an enigma forever.

The MPC Team


[i] For the original texts of the agreements, please visit the section on ‘Visa facilitation agreements’ at  http://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/policies/borders/borders_visa_en.htm

[ii] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32009L0050:EN:NOT

[iii] For the original research paper conducted by MPC, please visit: http://www.migrationpolicycentre.eu/docs/RR%202012%2001%20-%20visa%20final.pdf

[iv] http://ec.europa.eu/research/era/index_en.htm

[v] http://ec.europa.eu/research/era/understanding/what/what_is_era_en.htm

[vi] http://ec.europa.eu/research/fp7/index_en.cfm

[vii] http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/index_en.htm

[viii] http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

[ix] http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/ukraine/travel_to_eu/visa_code/visa_code_en.htm