Migration in Europe Trends and perspectives

23-11-2008 | Garson (DELSA, OECD)

Although Europe is considered today more as an area of immigration and of acceptance of refugees, it also contributed in the past to migration flows, notably during the 19th century and up to the end of the 1960s. Bron: Kif Kif 08/02/2008 - Garson (DELSA, OECD)   Jean-Pierre GARSON Head of Non-Member Economies and International Migration, DELSA, OECD    

1. Although Europe is considered today more as an area of immigration and of acceptance of refugees, it also contributed in the past to migration flows, notably during the 19th century and up to the end of the 1960s. Recent trends show the ageing of European populations, which has rekindled the debate on migration as a way of increasing the working population at the beginning of the 21st century. Several recent studies have shown, however, that immigration alone will not be sufficient to modify the demographic structures of those European countries most affected by population decline.  

2. Current debates are also considering the possibility of increasing labour immigration in order to compensate for the deficit in pension and social security systems as well as manpower shortages. At the same time, the social cost of immigration is growing, with the prolongation of the duration of stays of migrants and increases in family reunion inflows and the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers. In addition, in certain European countries, unemployment among foreigners is at a much higher level in relation to their proportion of the working population. Furthermore, second generation immigrants encounter difficulties with insertion in the labour market. The European immigration model has changed over time and the challenges faced by European societies require structural policies which go far beyond the role migration can play in the short and medium term to alleviate the consequences of population ageing.  

3. This paper provides an overview of the main migration periods in postwar Europe to the present (Part I). The second part reviews recent trends in Europe. These are defined in part by the increase in labour-related migration responding to specific occupation shortages and the continued inequalities between nationals and some foreigners in participation rates, sectoral distribution, unemployment rates and working conditions.  

4. Part III examines the migration challenges in an enlarged Europe with the accession of ten candidate countries later this year (1 May 2004), which will occur within a complex labour market framework. These new member states will also play an important role in the implementation of one of the most significant events within the European Union in terms of migration: the agreement under the Treaty of Amsterdam (1 May 1999) to create a common immigration and asylum policy. Part IV focuses specifically on the continued efforts and challenges facing the European Union in the development of this policy. Although the legal framework for the harmonised policy has been developed at a cautious speed, the European Union has succeeded particularly in the area of asylum affairs and joint external border control.    

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