Andrew Geddes

Migration Governance in South America: Where is the region heading?

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By Marcia Vera-Espinoza, Leiza Brumat and Andrew Geddes

Migration governance in South America seems to be in transition. Following recent interviews with key actors in in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador as part of the MIGPROSP project we identify three tendencies in migration policy: ‘retreat’, ‘inertia’ and ‘change’. Together, these tendencies suggest that policy development and change in South America is unlikely to take the form of a unidirectional ‘tide’ be it liberal or illiberal, but will rather be non-linear and dependent on domestic conditions of governance and governability that shape how rhetorical commitments ‘hit the ground’. These conditions can include the state of the economy, but also other critical factors such as changes of government and political will. Read More

The Dutch aren’t turning against immigration – the salience of the immigration issue is what drives Wilders’ support

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by James Dennison, Andrew Geddes, and Teresa Talò

The key story in the 2017 Dutch election campaign so far has been the high levels of support for Geert Wilders’ PVV in opinion polls. But what explains the PVV’s ability to attract voters? James Dennison, Andrew Geddes and Teresa Talò write that although Wilders’ success is frequently linked to hardening views on immigration, attitudes toward immigration in the Netherlands have actually remained fairly stable. The real root of the PVV’s support lies in the salience of the immigration issue itself, partially heightened by media coverage of recent increases in the numbers of migrants entering the country.

2017 has been widely billed as a year of potentially momentous elections across Europe, including in Germany, France and, on 15 March, in the Netherlands. Some commentators have speculated about a domino effect that would see mainstream governments fall as part of a pan-Western backlash against globalisation and high levels of immigration following the British EU referendum and American presidential election of 2016. At first glance, the Dutch election supports this interpretation: polls suggest that the anti-immigration PVV – led by Geert Wilders – may win the most seats of any party in the House of Representatives. If Wilders’ party comes first, should we interpret the result as another example of surging public demand for an end to immigration? Or are such election results less indicative of a radical change in public attitudes than has thus far been assumed? Read More

More pathways for migrants to Europe can foil people smugglers – border clampdowns will not

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by Andrew Geddes and Luigi Achilli

By Ggia - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45246844

Syrian and Iraqi refugees arrive in Lesbos, Greece, from Turkey. Photo by Ggia – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45246844

The ongoing migration and refugee crisis topped the agenda at a meeting of EU political leaders in the Maltese capital, Valletta, earlier this month. Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, captured the urgency of the situation when he told the European Parliament in late January: “The European Union will be seriously tested unless we act now.”

The backdrop to this meeting is a dystopian image of Europe threatened by a migrant invasion of epic proportions managed by a criminal cartel of smugglers and traffickers. This nightmare vision continues to fuel resurgent populist and extreme right political parties. Containment and prevention of migrants reaching the EU, plus efforts to strengthen cooperation with neighbouring countries such as Libya, are widely seen as necessary political responses. Read More

Comparing migration governance in Europe and South America

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By Diego Acosta and Andrew Geddes

How do regional responses to migration differ in Europe and South America? This is the question tackled by new MIGPROSP research, published in the European Journal of Migration and Law.

Points of contact

There are important points of contact between Europe and South America.

  • The European Community (as it then was) strongly supported MERCOSUR’s creation in 1991.
  • In 2011, there were 3.1 million nationals of South American countries residing in the EU and around 1.3 million EU nationals who’d moved in the other direction.

But there are tensions too. The EU’s 2008 law on the return of irregular migrants, known as the Returns Directive, prompted a strongly critical reaction from South American governments.
A MERCOSUR declaration deplored the directive and pointed out the hospitality offered by South American countries to large numbers of European migrants. Read More

The EU referendum and Britain’s broken immigration politics

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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

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Emerging themes from MIGPROSP research

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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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.

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