The EU referendum and Britain’s broken immigration politics

By | Blog | No Comments

by Andrew Geddes

The decision in 2004 by Tony Blair’s New Labour government to allow unfettered access to the UK for citizens of the 8 central and east European EU newcomers has had monumentally important implications. Most other member states imposed transitional restrictions of up to 7 years. If Britain had done so too then it’s probably safe to say that the scale of movement to Britain would have been tiny in comparison with actual numbers and Britain would still be in the EU.

If about one thing, the 2016 referendum was about immigration, but British immigration politics are broken. While strained at times, it once was that a two party Con-Lab consensus established in the 1960s removed the issue from wider public debate. This consensus has long since been stretched way beyond breaking point fuelled not least by the steep growth in migration from other EU members after 2004.

London June 7 2016; Photo by David Holt

London June 7 2016; Photo by David Holt

Read More

Emerging themes from MIGPROSP research

By | Blog | No Comments

by Andrew Geddes

We’re now two years into the MIGPROSP project and have conducted more than 200 interviews with “actors” in migration governance systems in Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and South America. By actors we mean those who seek to make, shape or influence policy at local, national, regional or international level. We have amassed a huge amount of information, but what have we learned so far? This blog highlights three of the emerging themes that we’ll flesh out in later publications.

We draw both from the literature that we have reviewed plus our interview material. The interviews focused on a range of issues, including: Read More

Si Se Puede? Civil society in US migration governance

By | Blog | No Comments

by Michaela Bruckmayer

The phrase ¡Si Se Puede! (commonly translated from Spanish as Yes, it can be done! or Yes, we can!) has been the slogan for Latino related movements in the United States for many years. It has now recently been chanted by the more than 1000 protesters in front of the US Supreme Court on 18 April 2016. The court heard arguments in the case United States vs. Texas, a suit initially brought by Texas and 25 other US states with the intention to stop Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) – Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. Read More

Developing a comprehensive and sustainable integration strategy for Syrian refugee children in Denmark

By | Blog | No Comments

by Michelle Pace

8660040329_9983a48aca_z (1)A 2013 United Nations Refugee Agency report entitled The Future of Syria stated that two million Syrian children have been forced into exile as a result of the persistent civil war: “The world must act to save a generation of traumatized, isolated and suffering Syrian children from catastrophe. If we do not move quickly, this generation of innocents will become lasting casualties of an appalling war”. Such a statement has found ritual credence in images of refugees braving (and perishing) in the tumultuous waters of the Mediterranean in search of a safe haven. But more recently, the possible abduction of 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children by organised trafficking syndicates has confirmed that children are indeed the most vulnerable when in exile. Read More

Not only Lampedusa

By | Blog | No Comments

by Luca Lixi

Source: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Over the past years, the traditional migration routes that were used to try to breach the walls of Europe were those that connected the African coasts to southern Spain and, to a larger extent, southern Italy. Sicily in particular became the region of first entry, and the island of Lampedusa, in between the African and Sicilian coasts, started to receive a significant daily influx of migrants.

The resulting pressure on infrastructure and services has been constant. With the rising number of arrivals since Spring, this pressure has become unsustainable. For this reason, the Italian government devised a plan to diversify the ports of arrivals for rescued migrants, turning to other regions of southern Italy. A problematic case has been that of Sardinia. Read More

What will the EU’s proposed “relocation key” mean for member states and refugees?

By | Blog | No Comments

by Marcello Carammia (Montesquieu Institute, The Hague), Petra Bishtawi (University of Malta), and Andrew Geddes


North African immigrants near the Italian island of Sicily. Photo: Vito Manzari

The number of persons reaching Europe to apply for political asylum has increased in recent years to peaks close to the records registered in 1992. The humanitarian implications are now even more severe, with thousands of migrants dying in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

Following the tragedy of April 19th, 2015, when more than 800 persons died in a single shipwreck, the European Council held a special meeting. At the meeting, a 10-point plan was presented that included a commitment to “consider options for an emergency relocation system”. In the resolution that followed shortly on April 28th, the European Parliament reiterated the need for “solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility”. On May 13th, the European Commission published an “EU Agenda for Migration” including a set of detailed short- and long-term priorities. Among short-term priorities, the Commission planned to trigger by the end of May the emergency response mechanism provided in the EU Treaties under Article 78(3). Read More

South America’s moves to liberalize irregular migration are in stark contrast to the punitive and fatal policies of the US and Europe

By | Blog | No Comments

by Luisa Feline Freier and Diego Acosta


Image: Light Brigading (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Political scientists have long identified a paradox in the immigration policies of wealthy Western countries. Although governments typically condemn irregular migration, assuring their electorates that they are working hard to stem any ‘illegal flows’, they often tolerate the entry and residence of substantial numbers of irregular migrants due to structural labour market demands.

In South America, on the other hand, over the course of the past 15 years many governments have turned away from the previously often openly racist ‘criminalization’ of irregular immigrants and adopted surprisingly liberal discourses of universally welcoming all immigrants, irrespective of their origin and migratory status. Instead of distinguishing between desired ‘legal’ and undesired ‘illegal’ immigrants, South American politicians stress non-discrimination, the universality of migrants’ human rights irrespective of their status. Read More

Hard Evidence: which EU countries can afford to take the most refugees?

By | Blog | No Comments

by Andrew Geddes, Marcello Carammia (University of Malta), and Petra Bishtawi (University of Malta)

In its new policy on migration, the European Commission has proposed a fairer sharing of responsibility between member states for 20,000 displaced people. These people would be able to move to an EU member state without having to risk their lives on a Mediterranean crossing. The priority regions identified for resettlement are the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

The numbers are small but before the proposals were even published, the UK Home Secretary Theresa May had indicated that Britain would exercise its legal right to opt out of the scheme. Denmark and Ireland are also not necessarily bound by the provisions of a resettlement scheme. Read More

Interview with Federico Soda, IOM

By | Blog | No Comments
Federico Soda

Federico Soda

Andrew Geddes recently spoke with Federico Soda, who is Director, Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, International Organization for Migration. The Division oversees IOM’s programming worldwide and provides guidance in the areas of labour migration, migration and development, and integration.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Revising the EU Blue Card Directive

By | Blog | No Comments

by Elena Fumero

Labour migration policies have always been an extremely unpopular and controversial topic among Member States in the European Union (EU). In the past decades, EU countries have not hidden their preference for retaining lots of room to manoeuvre on economic migration, keeping strict control over admission of third country workers and disregarding any common policy framework. Economic migration is governed by two opposing ‘forces’; on the one hand, the desire of Member States to preserve their sovereignty and self-government when it comes to deciding who may legally migrate; on the other hand, the European institutions’ ambition of creating harmonized and coherent labour migration policies in order to increase the EU’s appeal to skilled workers and thus address labour shortages.

But the balance of those forces may be about to shift. During his successful campaign for election as Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted the importance of adopting a sound legal migration policy with a view to addressing demographic imbalances and fostering economic productivity of the EU: we […] need to develop a common legal migration policy to meet the increasing demand for skills and talents. Read More