On 28 March 2017 the First Advisory Committee Meeting of the EU Policy Lab foresight project on the future of migration in Europe took place in Brussels.

We brought together 18 external experts and EC policy-makers to discuss drivers of migration and to identify key certainties and uncertainties that will likely impact migration outcomes for Europe in the coming 15 years. Although the focus was on Europe, developments in other parts of the world, notably Africa and Asia were also considered by experts.

Debunking migration myths

The participants recognised that there is a need for a more holistic understanding of migration that goes beyond just looking at migration policy as a key driver. Additionally, our understanding of the phenomenon needs to move beyond an EU-centric view towards seriously considering global developments. At the same time, any foresight exercise needs to keep in mind important difference among types of migrations and interactions among different policy fields in order to stay relevant and to relate to specific problems faced by policy-makers. There is some potential in debunking myths that drive thinking about migration, such as the overly deterministic and overestimated role attached to climate change and demography or the expectation that more development aid will lead to decrease in emigration from developing countries towards Europe.

Key messages

Some of the key messages that arise of this project so far, are as follows:

  1. Push/pull frameworks on migration are outdated, misleading and simplistic. We need to look at migration as intrinsic and fundamental part of global change and development processes.
  2. Migration and labour market policies are intrinsically linked. We need to develop better and more nuanced understandings of these links as well as the wider social and economic policies that are linked to labour markets changes in Europe (i.e. welfare, health, pension reform).
  3. Important developments at the global level that need to be closely monitored include:
    • Challenging the deterministic view that environmental change will lead to more migration, but rather exploring how fragility and vulnerabilities impact migration decisions in the context of environmental change.
    • Challenging the deterministic view that development will lead to less migration, but rather understanding the broader context of youth aspirations and infrastructure needs in Africa.
    • Understanding that it is not demographic change per se that will lead to more or less migration, but rather the interconnection between demographic change and key socio-economic developments (changing role of work, changing role of education, growing ICT and communication means, economic power shifts towards East and South, role of non-state actors) that will likely determine migration processes.

The final objective of the project is to provide a more holistic view of migration and migration processes, to delineate some of the major global developments around migration in the future, and to draw out policy implications as to preparedness for possible migration futures.

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