MIGRATION: DOES EUROPE NEED A THIRD WAY?

 
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Brain circulation.

"Europe should have its own third way policy on qualified foreign workers: neither closing the door to the potential they offer nor falling into the North American trap: the brain drain i.e. attracting skilled immigrants who never return home", says the UK Presidency paper. The author Patrick Weil from the Paris-based National Center for Scientific Research argues that "it is necessary to facilitate voluntary 'recirculation' between [migrants] country of origin and their country of training". Thus foreign graduates educated in Europe who wish to return home to launch their career should be encouraged to do so. The paper proposes that such students be given a permanent visa allowing them "return and re-circulate from their country of origin without fear that any exit would be final". Such a system is not the standard practice at the moment.

Open gates to new member states.

The paper is equally adamant that citizens of the ten member states that joined the EU in May 2004 should have the right to work in the 15 'old' EU member countries. Currently, only the United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden allow this while the other twelve availed of 'transitional arrangements' that allow them restrict access to their labour markets until 2011. The paper says the resulting labour flows in the UK, Ireland and Sweden have been "both manageable and beneficial". It adds that "the countries who continue to close their labour markets find themselves in a counterproductive situation with new European citizens immigrating anyway and working illegally". It calls for the transitional periods (which apply to all new member states apart from Malta and Cyprus) to be rapidly scrapped.

Diverse national policies.

The need for immigration varies greatly from one member state to another, the paper notes. For example, Germany needs to take in about 500,000 immigrants a year to maintain the active population at its current level whereas France - where the birth rate is higher - only needs about 110,000 per annum. In countries that historically attracted large numbers of immigrants like Germany, France, the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands, most people legally migrating today do so by family reunion rather than through recruitment drives. By contrast, in countries where immigration is relatively new like Spain, Portugal or Greece, flows are mainly composed of direct labour migration.

Quotas or no?

Presently, it is up to each member state to decide whether or...

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