EU opinion & policy debates - across languages | BlogActiv.eu

Like many other successful companies, we have quite an international team at Europa Media. Certainly, most are Hungarian, but there are also employees from Germany, Italy, Turkey and Ukraine.

Diversity at Europa Media

An international environment at the company yields obvious cultural benefits such as swapping language knowledge, exchanging traditions and customs and frequently tasting culinary delights i.e. delicious dark chocolates from Ukraine, tiramisu prepared in true Italian style, famous Ritter-sport chocolate bars from Germany and special Turkish desserts.

At the same time, a multinational surrounding brings not only cultural diversity but a diversity of opinions and ideas as well, coupled with increased innovation capacities. During our brainstorming sessions, Europa Media colleagues often have various innovative ideas for projects, comparing certain achievements in their countries and adjusting them to the existing frameworks in other countries. Moreover, our international networking outreach has grown stronger due to the previous work experience of EM’s colleagues from abroad. Knowledge of legal, social and economic conditions in those countries and suggestions for potential partners during proposal development bring added value to EM’s activities.

 


Immigration issue on the populists’ agenda

Therefore, a friendly atmosphere and productive work at Europa Media disproves the concerns of certain populist politicians across EU Member States[1][2][3][4][5][6]about migration being a threat to receiving EU countries. Countless declarations that immigrants somehow endanger the EU’s economic development, employment and wage rates in individual state, that they abuse welfare systems in the EU or pose a threat to Europe’s security and healthcare system are present in the rhetoric of many political parties across Europe. This fuels negative, sometimes even discriminatory and xenophobic attitudes.

Perceptions by the local population largely stem from the confusion between migrant categories which politicians tend to create in their statements, particularly when failing to cope with economic issues in the country[7]. Moreover, the danger of labeling people based on their country of origin results in the negative spillover effect, when highly skilled workers are forced to take up menial jobs (as their education or credentials are not recognized in the receiving country) instead of making full use of their creative potential.

Types of immigrants

In order to avoid confusion and increase understanding there should be a clear differentiation among types of immigrants:

- Economic (labour) migrants

Labour migration presupposes moving to another country for the purpose of employment[8]. We can differentiate between low-skilled labour migrants (who usually fill in the labour market gaps in receiving countries, as the native labour force is reluctant to take up such jobs) and highly-skilled migrants who are usually well-educated and experienced and seek to improve their economic conditions.

- Temporary/seasonal workers

Seasonal migration usually involves workers (periodically) going to another country to perform a certain type of work for a fixed period of time; they later return to their home countries.

- Migrants coming for the purpose of family reunification, studies, volunteering, retirement.

People migrating for other reasons than employment.

- Asylum seekers and refugees

People who are (supposedly) endangered in their countries and are seeking asylum abroad. Once the receiving country grants them stay on its territory, they obtain the status of the refugees, which can also imply certain limitations for future employment.

- Second generation of migrants

This category includes workers, born in the receiving country to immigrant parent(s). Typically they should have the same social and employment rights, as native citizens; however, the practice varies depending on the migrant integration laws in different countries.

- Illegal immigrants

Illegal migration means either illegal border crossing or stay on the territory of another country without necessary permission. Illegal immigrants are usually the public opinion’s scapegoats in the case of poor economic performance and high unemployment rates. Other categories of migrants (even those with necessary work permits) are usually lumped together in media coverage of illegal migration as a threat to the country.


The right to freedom of movement within EU

While EC underlines that freedom of movement is the “fundamental principle of the Treaty enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and developed by EU secondary legislation and the Case law of the Court of Justice”[9], many EU citizens, as well as third country nationals, face difficulties on the EU labour market due to various restrictions introduced by individual Member States (e.g. transitional arrangements for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, cumbersome procedures of obtaining work and residence permits for non-EU employees, etc.)

Empirical data on the impact of immigration in EU Member States

When analyzing countries’ viewpoint on migration, it is important to operate the data concerning the share of immigrants in that particular country. For example, it is quite interesting to compare the rise of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in Hungary and Sweden. These two countries are comparable in terms of population size (more than 9 million) and GDP growth in last quarter of 2013 (1.3-1.5%[10]). Curiously, we can see from the Table 1 that the share of migrants in these two countries is quite different: with as little as 3% of immigrants, Hungary is already known for its official anti-immigrant declaration, while in Sweden, with its more than 10% immigrant share, anti-immigration sentiments are also rising, being manifested in increased support for a particular party[11].

Moreover, a peculiar comparison in terms of the share of immigrants and foreign-born population can be made for Italy and France. For example, while populist parties in both countries contribute to the image of these countries as “flooded” with immigrants, we can see that the immigrant share is about 5-6% in both countries (Table 1), and the total share of non-national and foreign-born population is much higher: 17.7% in France and 16.9% in Italy (Table 2). It can be concluded that such an anti-immigrant agenda is speculative and discriminatory at its core as it mostly covers citizens of foreign origin, who should have equal rights as the native population.

Table 1. Share of immigrants (per 1000 inhabitants), 2012, Eurostat

 

 

Table 2. Share of non-national and foreign born population, 2013, Eurostat

Benefits of immigration for the EU

Research proves that concerns about the negative effects of immigration are mostly groundless. For instance, several recent reports[12][13][14] found that migration:

  • Has a mostly positive impact in the receiving country on the earning distribution;
  • Contributes to improved efficiency in the labor market;
  • Results in “better flow of ideas, knowledge and technology, goods and services, as well as capital”;
  • Has positive effects on public finance, EU’s GDP, GDP per capita or employment;
  • Leads to increased diversity of the labour force;
  • Is a “vehicle for labour market adjustment”
  • Does not lead to welfare abuse, as for may migrants access to welfare and social support scheme is complicated.

Nowadays, the globalized economy and international cooperation promote open access to employment and an open attitude towards a foreign-born labour force. You never know – it may be your colleagues from abroad with whom you will form the strongest research or project management team in your organization.


[12] Skilled Labor Flows:  Lessons from the European Union Report under the World Bank ASEAN Labor Markets program  funded by AusAid

http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/reports/report_pdfs/iza_report_49.pdf

[14] Does Immigration Grease the Wheels of European Labour Markets?KING Project –Economics Unit

http://king.ismu.org/wp-content/uploads/GuziKahanecMytnaKurekovaLevandovska_DeskResearchInDepthStudy18.pdf

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