The challenges are huge: migratory flows, tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea, an ageing population and the radicalisation of young Europeans who are joining combatants in Syria. This is the context in which the EU will have to define its future justice and home affairs policy actions, against a backdrop of economic crisis, record unemployment, European and national elections and rising populism. The 28 will set the tone at the June European Council.

On 29 January, the European Commission noted that its contribution to the debate would be economic. "We will have to deal with a world where more and more people want to come to Europe," explained Cecilia Malmstrom, the commissioner with responsibility for home affairs, speaking to 500 participants gathered in Brussels to brainstorm on initiatives for the years 2014-2020. "We have to recognise that such movements can be beneficial to Europe and its economy. We need to see migration as an asset, not a burden. We will need to compete in attracting the right skills and talents. And North America, Asia and Australia will be strong competition."

The problem, observed Peter Sutherland, UN special representative for migration, is that "companies are not making a commitment on migration". Meanwhile, "the financial crisis has drained governments' energy and they can no longer halt these negative forces [of populism]," added Demetrios Papademetriou, head of the Migration Policy Institute, who urged the EU to "make an effort to ensure that migrants have work, to create a positive image of immigration and to talk about concrete examples of integration".

"Companies are the key players," confirmed Stefano Manservisi, director-general of DG Home Affairs. "It is companies that know where the necessary resources are. Business plans should include the migration factor [...] and discourse on social dumping needs to be stopped."

"We are abandoning our basic values - Schengen, the eurozone - even if we can criticise them," regretted Sutherland.


The Commission will soon launch a consultation on all these challenges. But the context remains: "The economic crisis has the upper hand,"...

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