Written by Anita Orav.
Each year, 18 December is observed as International Migrants’ Day. So designated by the United Nations General Assembly on 4 December 2000, in response to increasing migration around the world, the day aims to draw attention to the human rights of migrants and highlight their contribution to our societies.
Migration and mobility are and will continue to be regular human phenomena, both globally and in the EU. On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million nationals from non-EU countries were residing in the EU, representing 5.3 % of the total population. Most migrants, approximately 2.25 million to 3 million per year, arrive in the EU using legal channels. However, wars and upheaval in neighbouring countries also trigger displacement of people and increased irregular arrivals of migrants in the EU, such as witnessed in 2015-2016, and in 2022 as a result of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Migration management in the EU
The EU and its Member States have shared competence in migration policy. In recent years, the priority accorded to migration has been reflected in the EU budget, with €22.7 billion allocated to migration and security over the 2021-2027 period. Acknowledging that the EU has to move away from ad hoc solutions and put in place a predictable and reliable migration management system, the European Commission put forward a new pact on migration and asylum offering a comprehensive approach aimed at strengthening and integrating key EU policies on migration, asylum and border management. In addition, to enhance legal migration into the EU, the Commission proposed a new skills and talent package, which is intended to attract and retain highly skilled third-country nationals in the EU.
Ukrainians under the Temporary Protection Directive
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, over 7.8 million people have already been forced to seek refuge, mostly in neighbouring countries. In response, the European Union swiftly decided to grant EU-wide temporary protection to people arriving from Ukraine, and 4.8 million people have registered under this mechanism or similar national protection schemes. It is an emergency mechanism that can be used in case of mass arrivals of people, waiving the need for the examination of individual applications and allowing Ukrainian nationals to enjoy harmonised rights across the EU for up to two years. These rights include access to a residence permit, education, medical care, housing, the labour market and social welfare assistance. In October 2022, the EU also launched a pilot EU talent pool – an online job search tool to facilitate access to the labour market for new arrivals from Ukraine. The platform brings together jobseekers and EU employers, national public employment services and private employment agencies.
European Parliament position
The European Parliament has advocated a humane, solidarity-based and common approach to migration in its various resolutions and reports. In its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration, the Parliament emphasised the need to develop safe and lawful routes for asylum-seekers and refugees into the EU. Furthermore, taking into consideration that total labour supply in the euro area is projected to fall by 13 % (20 million people) between 2019 and 2070, the Parliament has encouraged the development of adequate legal economic migration channels, most recently in its resolution of 25 November 2021. The Parliament is currently working on the Commission’s proposals to update the EU legal migration acquis, with draft reports being debated in the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in December 2022.
Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘International Migrants’ Day – 18 December 2022‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.
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