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September 1, 2012 |  13 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

Anna Morticelli

The EU Has the Wrong Approach and Wrong Attitude

Anna Morticelli: Even though EU policy grants member states substantial autonomy in matters of illegal immigration, a coherent across-the-board approach would be more effective. Illegal immigrants should be decriminalized and viewed as a resource, and their countries of origin should continue to receive financial support.

Over the last decade or so the EU has launched a series of legal provisions and policy documents containing the guidelines, objectives and legal instruments with which to operate in the fight against illegal immigration from third-world countries.

The policy of the European Union to fight illegal immigration seems to be moving in two directions. On one hand it acts directly against the factors that generate emigration in the countries of origin. On the other hand, to promote the opposite phenomenon, that of regular migration, the EU introduced a series of procedures to facilitate the entry of particular categories of immigrants such as students, unremunerated trainees, volunteers and workers, specifically high-skilled workers.

However, despite such efforts, the EU policy and legal framework do not appear effective. There is therefore no systematic or coherent approach to irregular migration. Instead, the EU continues to consciously limit itself to the provision of general principles, which can then be applied differently in the different member states. The choice of this approach demonstrates the will of the multinational organization to adopt regulations that are deliberately ambiguous and contradictory, leaving their implementation and management to the domestic jurisdiction of each member state.

Of course, irregular migration occurs differently in every member state, and therefore, the tools and policies adopted must allow for that. For example, in Italy immigrants tend to arrive through irregular channels; in the UK many arrive legally but overstay and so become irregular. However, the EU fails to recognize that a coherent framework would facilitate rather than hinder the management of migration.

Furthermore, the EU and its member states have a very negative image of illegal immigrants, seeing them only as a problem and not as a resource. This approach, for example, is confirmed by the recent so-called Return Directive, 2008/115/EC, which seems to adopt measures that condemn irregular migrants as criminals and deny them the protection granted to other Europeans. Other measures and the increasing criminalization of immigration confirm this approach.

So what is the solution? One way is of course to continue to provide practical support to improve the economic conditions of the countries of origin. Financially, this could include allocating part of the VAT that European consumers pay on EU products to such activities. Moreover, it is important that the EU starts to change the negative conception of immigrants, recognizing them as persons who have rights and freedoms and who may fill in gaps in the labor markets. Within the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice, we can see the beginnings of a change in the way of thinking. Further developing these ideas may lead to the decriminalization of immigration and immigration channels and better management of the phenomenon as a whole. This would include protection from exploitation and trafficking and addressing the needs of EU member States, the countries of emigration, as well as the immigrants themselves.

Annalisa Morticelli received her master's degree in Jurisprudence with a specialization in Legal Profession at the Faculty of Law at the Università di Torino (University of Turin), Italy. Currently, she is a visiting researcher on illegal immigration in Europe at the Faculty of Law of Bradford University (UK).

This article is published as part of the "Border Policies: Lessons for Improvement" theme week.

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Tags: | Illegal Immigration |
 
Comments
Ilqar Fuad Qurbanov

August 28, 2012

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Dear Anna,

Thanks for interesting topic and article. The main challenge that EU face on the solution of illegal imigration emanates from Neighbour countries (non-EU MSs, EaP and ENP countries). First of all there very poor living standarts in non-EU (neighbour) countries, consequently they are looking for well-provided and rich countries (France, Germany) where labor power is more expensive than they live in. Second reason is the visa faciliation and "Shengen zone" factor, one can easily get Shengen visa, and goes aross the borders of MSs. Shenge visa faciliated illegal migration more than before it was.

Respects,
Ilqar Qurbanov
Analyst of Strategic Outlook
 
Annalisa   Morticelli

August 28, 2012

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Dear Ilqar,

thanks for your interesting and stimulating comment.
I believe that the question with respect to the creation of the Schengen area and its effects, in relation to the phenomenon of illegal immigration, is an important point of reflection to reason.

Thank you for the stimulus.

Kind regards,

Annalisa
 
Gökhan  Tekir

August 28, 2012

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Dear Anna,
Thanks for thought provoking article. I think financial support to the immigrant sending countries proved to be insufficient in preventing immigration. This policy does not aim to resolve the unequal distribution of the wealth in the world. It is just a polite way of keeping people in their countries. The underlying causes of the immigration remained to be untouched.The easing of protectionist policies of the EU which restrict the ability of the poorest countries from exporting their goods to the EU area would be a good step to reduce the destitution level of these countries ,thereby reducing the level of immigration in long run.
Secondly, the political developments in North Africa and the Middle East present opportunities to the EU. The economies of these countries will be annexed to the world system as a result of democratization of these countries. Also, the rule of law and basic freedoms would be provided for the citizens who live in these countries.
As you correctly pointed out the EU should change its negative attitude towards immigrants. The EU countries will need immigrant labor force as its population is increasinly ageing. The xenophobic positions of the national governments for populist reasons does not only harm the immigrations but also their future interests. In order to avoid the harmful consequences of populist rhetoric, the institutions in the EU should take more active position concerning the immigration issue.
Best regards,
Gökhan Tekir
 
Olga  Papadopoulou

August 29, 2012

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Dear Anna.

First of all, thank you very for your interesting article and thoughts. Migration and diversity are becoming nowadays major challenges in the Euro-Mediterranean area and in Europe as a whole.

However, I would like to highlight some points. One of the solution proposed is the provision of practical support to improve the economic conditions of the countries of origin. But, how can we guarantee the effective distribution of this aid, in countries of origin with high levels of corruption? One effective solution might be the opening of new companies in the countries of origin and general construction of factories / plants that could offer labour and increase the employment rate.

Secondly, I agree that it is important that the EU starts to change the negative conception of immigrants. But, firstly should its citizens to recognize migrants as persons who have rights and freedoms. According to a number of studies, not only the overestimate number of migrants interlinked with anti immigrant feelings, but also stereotypes and how social psychology works between groups, namely Realistic Group Conflict Theory and Integrated Threat Theory. The last World Annual Report of International Organization of Migration looks at what should be done to communicate effectively and honestly about migration. This is particularly important at a time when perceptions against migrants tend to be negative in most industrialized countries that are going through an economic slowdown.
The challenge today is to manage perceptions in an increasingly multicultural world where some individuals feel that their identity is being eroded.

Lastly, I want to point that if we want migrants to fill in gaps in the labor markets, should we be very careful, since the danger of exploitation is extremely high. Considering the existence of 3D jobs (illegal migrants' foreign certificates of skills and education are not recognized) immigrants work could be of lower social status without representation and diffuculty in maintaining fair working wages.

Thank you very much.
Sincerely yours,
Olga Papadopoulou
 
Courtenay  Mitchell

September 1, 2012

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Dear Anna,

I enjoyed reading your article and think you make some interesting points.

You make the argument for a 'coherent across-the-board' approach from the EU, in addressing illegal immigration. However, do the differing rates and patterns of migration experienced by each individual country within the EU not make this largely impossible to achieve?

Additionally, though I agree with you that we might view many immigrants as a resource, this is not always the case. There are definitely cases in which illegal immigrants prove a burden to the receiving state. Moreover, would blanket decriminalization not just serve to encourage further immigration? And would this not lead to over-burdening some states, not just in in terms of supporting the immigrants living within their countries, but also in providing financial support to the countries from which they have come?

I think you have some really good ideas, I'm just not sure whether the EU is yet at a stage at which their implementation would be practical.

Kind regards,

Courtenay Mitchell
 
Tabatha  Robinson

September 3, 2012

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Görkhan, I think you are correct when you say that paying sender countries is not the long-term solution. As you say, it is simply a polite way of keeping people in their home countries. Yet, we can assume, that if the situation is dire enough, they will eventually find a way to leave. Instead, you argue that in exchange for their cooperation, the EU should ease its protectionist policies that restrict the ability of the poorest countries from exporting their goods to the EU area. It seems as if this policy would simultaneously help the economies of sender countries, but to return to your question, how does it resolve the unequal distribution of wealth? It may help sender countries achieve some economic growth, but it is often more than economic stagnation and more than inequality between countries that motivate immigrants to leave their country. On a domestic level, growth does not translate to equal distribution. That is to say that a country may experience some growth without seeing any changes in the economic situation of the poorest amongst the population. Thus, the motivation to emigrate without authorization may not be abated.
 
Tabatha  Robinson

September 3, 2012

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Olga, you bring up a valid question: how can we guarantee the effective distribution of aid in countries with high levels of corruption? While I think that offering more sustainable and transparent support is a good idea, the opening of new companies is just setting the stage for neo-imperialism. These sender countries do not need any more foreign businesses to dictate or dominate their labor and production markets; what they need is the infrastructure to efficiently run these markets themselves.
 
Tabatha  Robinson

September 3, 2012

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Olga and Courtney,

Nearly everyone agrees that the EU needs a more positive image toward immigrants. This should, as Anna notes, include recognizing their rights and freedoms and the labor benefits they provide the labor market. It will hopefully lead to the decriminalization of illegal immigrants and better management of the entire phenomenon.

Your comments seem to raise this concern as well: how should the EU go about promoting positive images of immigrants? Should it follow more of a propaganda approach or should it pass the responsibility onto civil society organizations to do so?
 
Annalisa   Morticelli

September 4, 2012

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Many thanks for all interesting comments to the article. I would like to make some considerations about them.

In order to the financial support that Europe should continue to provide to the countries of origin, I believe that the observations made by Görkhan and Olga are correct: the funding by Europe to these countries is not the long-term solution and certainly, there is a risk that these funds are not always correctly allocated in countries where there is a strong corruption.

However, I believe that a form of financing statement is necessary. It is important to identify the most effective: one solution, as also Olga notes, to help these countries in their economic growth, might be by supporting the creation of business enterprises in those States to the promotion of local products.

Regarding another issue highlighted by Olga, that risk of exploitation of immigrants in the workplace, I agree with this practical concern.
However, should be emphasized, the efforts of Europe to ensure greater protection with regard to this phenomenon : the recent policy of the EU seems to be, at least with respect to this precise problem, clearer than before and addressed to a concrete protection of migrant workers.

This is demonstrated, for example, by the European Directive 2011/36, which seems to be more effective than the fight against trafficking in human beings. It provides to reorder the material in a more organic way offering, in particular, a new and broader definition of trafficking in human beings. The Directive not only defines common minimum rules on definition of the offense and the level of sanctions, but focuses on greater protection for victims. To adapt to the recent evolution of the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings, the Directive adopts a broader concept of “trafficking” to include other forms of exploitation, which includes, forced labor or services, including begging, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude. Of course it is necessary to wait and see what will be the transposition of the Directive by Member States by April 2013.

Lastly, about the question of who has the responsibility for promoting a positive image of the immigrant, I think it is especially in the hands of the European policy and the individual goverments of Member States. In fact, I think first of all the policy must recognize the immigrant as a citizen with rights and freedoms, which needs to be judged for his actions and not because of his status. Consequently, this policy would represent a strong message to civil society, which would be influenced and it would contribute to the spread of a positive image of these citizens.

Concerning the reflection of Courtney about if the decriminalization not just serve to encourage further immigration, I think that the criminalization of illegal immigrants is not the answer to the problem of illegal immigration. For example, Italy has adopted this such of policy by previous government, because of the perception of irregular immigrants as an enemy, introducing a strict policy condemning the illegal immigrants only because of its status, however it has not detected the reduction the flow of illegal immigration. This policy have only increased the number of detainees in prisons (though in Italy there was already a problem of overcrowding in prisons) and created a climate of intolerance towards these immigrants. This is an example of how this policy is ineffective in practice to solve the problem and negatively affect the civil society.

I think it is important that policy of European Union, that it would be a democratic model, recognizes the rights and freedoms of these individuals; it must be able to adopt a policy that seeks to reduce the problem of illegal immigration without sacrificing the fundamental rights of illegal immigrants.

Best wishes,

Annalisa


 
Gökhan  Tekir

September 4, 2012

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Dear Tabatha Robinson,
Thank you for giving me opportunity to clarify my points.
I would like to start with the question regarding the role of economic growth to reduce immigration. First of all, I do not argue that the immigration to the countries which have better life conditions can be eradicated completely. Paying sender countries to keep their citizens is a way to clear conscience without touching the fundamental problems and it proves ineffective. The change in the structure of the economic system between the EU and other devoloping states will be good start to reduce the problems that lead to enormous immigration level. Thus, the economies of these countries would be developed. In short and medium terms, I share the same concerns with you. It would be naive to expect the development will cure the unequal economic relations in domestic level. Moreover, in short term, we can expect that the sender countries will send more immigrants to the rich countries because the economic development will increase the tools of the people to immigrate.Nevertheless, in long term, once the economic development becomes repetitious issue in the economic life of the sender country, the citizens would stay in their countries instead of working under bad conditions and lower wages in developed countries.
 
Olga  Papadopoulou

September 5, 2012

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Dear Tabatha
Dear Annalisa.

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to clarify my proposals that came after reading the interesting article titled “The EU Has the Wrong Approach and Wrong Attitude”.
Firstly, regarding the effective distribution of aid in countries with high levels of corruption, I proposed the opening of new companies/industries by indigenous individuals, a process that could increase in this way the employment rate in the origin countries of illegal migrants. I would like to clarify that I do not support the domination of foreign businesses to labor and production markets of migrants’ origin countries. However, I do believe that this aid could be the transfer of knowledge, R&D or “know-how” skills, in order to improve education or human capital of unemployed individuals in order to become more competitive in the local labor market. This transfer can be achieved via an exchange of educators between host and origin countries, providing the latter with a higher level of education and the former with a more multi-cultural approach in their home countries. Also, with the opening of new & local industries will be an expansion of employment opportunities, meaning that the employment will not be dependent only on public – sector jobs.
The above can apply to ensure food security especially in African countries, namely to buy locally achieving in this way, low costs of transport and storage. In our case the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” is more than applicable.
All in all, for a successful and integrated approach of development, we should answer for each society, whose concern is development and which are those factors that define the needs of each generation, culture and society, with which criteria and how. Consequently, actions for improving the living standards of the population in a sustainable way, has to be compatible with local conditions and identity of the particular society.

Secondly, regarding the promotion of a positive image of immigrants, I highlight the importance of civil society organizations, NGOs, migrants’ organizations and other key groups/individuals, in order to make cultural diversity visible in the space. Migrants can be empowered to become agents/mediators for intercultural dialogue. But what can we do to achieve this?
- By establishing Multi-Cultural Days which can be celebrated by either festivals or cultural events at the discretion of the countries/cities involved, in order to achieve cross-cultural interchanges between the immigrant communities with the local population. Multiculturalism can be formed, expressed or included in each part of our lives, from food to music.
- By organizing exhibitions in museums and local art galleries in order to promote ethnic and cultural diversity and in general integrate the arts of immigrants in to the host country’s artistic circles.
All the above should be done always in combination with the cooperation among national governments of EU and its Member States with International Organization of Migration (IOM) and other Non-Governmental Organizations whose initiatives directly confront phenomena related to immigration such as racism and ethnic discrimination.

Thank you very much.
 
Charlie  Cadywould

September 11, 2012

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Interesting piece. I would suggest that when it comes to negative perceptions of immigrants, the EU is not the culprit compared to domestic politicians and the media.
 
Jana  Mudronova

September 11, 2012

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Dear Anna,

very inspiring and challenging topic you decided to introduce and i am positively surprised by the discussion it spurred.

You are definitely right about negative perception of immigration among the Europeans. I believe, current economic situation just contributes to increasing tensions. However, we cannot expect the attitude towards migrants from non-EU countries, of both European institutions as well as broader civil society, to change if adverse attitude towards internal (i.e. within EU) migration still persists. For example, the campaign of Dutch parliamentary party- Party of Freedom regarding migrants from Central and Eastern Europe, encouraging people to submit a complaint on their presence in the Netherlands directly targets citizens of another EU member states.

Thus, the question of migration as such should be addressed. However, it should not be presented in the lines of Europe needs migration for both economic and demographic reasons, as this can and often leads to an idea that Europe can capitalize the migration, exploit workers (even highly skilled) who will be willing to work for lower wage than the Europeans. As a result, we can create a dual European society.

As pointed out by many other contributors, this issue is complex and relates to question of protectionism, living conditions, human rights etc in the country of origins.


 

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