Revising the EU Blue Card Directive

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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

Borders, migration, and global governance in West Africa: a research agenda

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The_Spanish_Civil_Guard_patrol_ship_Rio_Segura_is_moored_in_Dakar,_Senegal,_March_8,_2014,_during_exercise_Saharan_Express_2014_140308-N-QY759-182

The Spanish Civil Guard patrol ship Rio Segura moored in Dakar, March 2014, during exercise Saharan Express 2014 (www.defenseimagery.mil)

by Philippe M. Frowd

When arriving in Senegal’s main airport in Dakar, travellers have their fingerprints taken digitally and stored in an entry and exit tracking system. At the same time, the country’s navy carries out joint sea patrols to detect irregular migrants alongside Spanish police. Further north, Mauritania is building new border posts as part of a border management strategy funded in part by the European Union.

Across West Africa, border control is increasingly technological and transnational, and brings in a broad range of actors and approaches. The diversity of practices taking place under the banner of ‘border control’, and the strategies of intervention used to improve capacity to govern borders, tell us a lot about the nature of control over migration, the priorities of African security actors, and the diffusion of security practices to the global south. Read More

UKIP’s immigration plan is not realistic – but it really doesn’t have to be

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by Andrew Geddes

To call UKIP’s position on immigration a fully formed policy might be overstating things, but the parameters of the party’s approach have become a little clearer with a series of announcements made on the campaign trail.

One thing is absolutely clear: UKIP wants to drastically reduce immigration. As news of spiking net migration figures were made public recently, immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe talked about an annual immigration cap of 50,000. This would halve the coalition government’s current commitment – apparently promised for a future Conservative government by Theresa May – to get net migration below 100,000.

But the new approach sounds a little different. Nigel Farage has expressed disdain for targets and caps, which he seemed to imply were an invention of the Westminster political class. Instead, he has proposed a “return to normality”. Read More

Lockdown at the Rio Grande achieves little as Obama seeks immigration change

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By Leila Hadj-Abdou

“Tonight I’d like to talk with you about immigration”, Barack Obama announced on November 20. The president plans to grant millions of irregular immigrants temporary protection from deportation.

In reaction the House of Representatives has passed a Bill aiming to block his path. This would ban the Department of Homeland Security from giving relief from deportations or providing work permits to immigrants who are in the US “unlawfully”. The bill has no chance of getting through the Senate but is meant as symbolic statement of Republican dissatisfaction.

While Obama’s actions have spurred strong discontent among Republicans, voters are pleased. In the two weeks following his announcement, Obama’s approval rating among Hispanic voters increased by 14 points to 68%. Read More

Is free movement in Europe an anomaly? The new open borders policy in South America

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by Diego Acosta

Free movement of people in the European Union (EU) is currently under attack by certain political and media sectors across Europe, with proposals arising on how to limit its scope. At the same time, other regions in the world are adopting free movement regimes. This is important to highlight as it allows us to demonstrate that the EU’s free movement regime is not an anomaly as its opponents often argue. It also enables us to compare how different regions function which can lead to ideas and proposals for refining legislation and policies. As such, current debates on the construction of a South American citizenship as well as the MERCOSUR Residence Agreement, effectively establishing an open border area in the region, deserve our attention in Europe. Read More

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet?

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By Andrew Geddes and Leila Hadj-Abdou

Auf Wiedersehen

Angela Merkel was reported on Monday 3 November as saying that if David Cameron insisted on ideas such as quotas for EU migrants then this could push Britain beyond a point of no return and towards the exit door. Granted we’re not talking about huge numbers of people, but those that do closely follow EU politics would not be surprised by Merkel’s view. Why would any British government imagine that the German government would be an ally in dismantling one of the EU’s defining features? But scratch the surface and the even more startling thing is that Britain and Germany could be allies on free movement. By raising the stakes and talking about controls and quotas, the British government seems to have alienated its potential ally in Berlin. Read More

Joining the dots: Bridget Anderson talks to MIGPROSP

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Bz_8tFXCYAA6_kd.jpg-largeLast week we were delighted to welcome Professor Bridget Anderson for the University of Sheffield Migration Research Group inaugural annual lecture. Bridget is Professor of Migration and Citizenship and Deputy Director of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, and the author of Us and Them? The dangerous politics of immigration control (OUP, 2013). Before her lecture, entitled “Joining the Dots: Rethinking the Worker Citizen”, Professor Anderson spoke to MIGPROSP Research Associate Leila Hadj-Abdou:

What are you working on right now?

At the moment my work is quite focused on the legal status of citizenship and its interaction with political and social status. In the past I’ve done work on low-wage labour migration, trafficking, and domestic labour.

Read More

Cameron’s four options for restricting EU migration

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By Andrew Geddes

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, at his press conference during the 37th G8 summit in Deauville, France.

David Cameron made a play for Eurosceptic hearts during his recent speech to the Conservative Party conference by promising to put the free movement of EU citizens at the heart of his renegotiation strategy in Europe. But Cameron kept the detail on this pledge light for a very good reason. Cutting the number of European migrants coming to the UK is not a realistic prospect. Hurdles await him at every turn. He has four options when he negotiates with Brussels and really only one that will be workable.

Cameron’s promise is driven by the threat posed by UKIP. Nigel Farage’s party has tapped into anti-immigration feelings and has linked them to their opposition to EU membership. Migration from other member states has become the main flow into Britain and has occurred at a far higher rate than anticipated back when the EU’s membership increased to include countries from central and eastern Europe in 2004. Read More

MIGPROSP at the 2014 IMISCOE Conference

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Last week hundreds of migration researchers headed to Madrid to discuss their recent findings at the 11th annual IMISCOE conference.

IMISCOE, which stands for International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe, is the largest European network of scholars working on migration and immigrant integration, bringing together over 500 researchers and 31 research institutions, among them the European University Institute (Florence), as well as many national centres specializing in migration such as the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies (Neuchâtel). The conference included a wide range of topics covering issues such as the incorporation of immigrants in political parties as well as migration and social welfare in Europe, or religious practices of immigrants. Read More

Part of the problem or part of the solution? Migration as adaptation to climate change

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By Andrew Geddes

Can migration allow people in some of the poorest parts of the world to sustain their lives and livelihoods in the face of environmental and climate change?  Too often migration both within states and internationally is seen as a crisis, disaster or last resort. This is a mistake. Instead, it should be seen as a form of adaptation.

I’ve just returned from a National Workshop on Migration and Global Environmental Change in Delhi, India organised by UNESCO, UKAID and the UK Government Office for Science (GOS).  The meeting looked at climate change implications for India and neighbouring states, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, that are flood and drought prone, have economic activity in climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture and have experienced significant migration, particularly internal migration from rural to urban areas. Environmental and climate change impact on the poorest people, exacerbate existing inequalities and can lead to migration. Read More