Is migration a tool for more development?

By Corina Cretu

International migration has become one of the fundamental features of a globalizing world as it has increased significantly since 1980s. Even though migration is considered to be one of the major opportunities for development, the EU Member States have not responded to it jointly and consistently.

Migration and development are two interlinked phenomena, which influence each other in multiple ways. While development-oriented actions can help tackling the root causes of migratory flows, migration can, in turn, contribute positively to development, including economic growth, social empowerment and technological progress. Migration has long contributed to development and economic ad social well being in both destination and origin countries.

European Union must play a major role to make migration an instrument for development. In order to do this, an increase in development aid is necessary but not sufficient. We must support the idea of mobility of human beings as a human right, which emphasises that any policy in this area must be committed to promoting mobility by choice rather than by necessity.

There are 3 main constituent channels which make up the migration and development nexus: people flows, financial flows and diasporic flows.

Referring to people flows, especially brain drain, the EU should focus on mitigating the bad effects of the lack of qualified human resources in countries of origin and valuing the information knowledge and skills acquired abroad by migrants. When dealing with the brain drain from certain countries and specialized sectors we should provide the framework for immigrants to come, go and come back again, with fewer restrictions, phenomenon called `circular migration`.

The transfer of money by the foreign workers to their home country, also called `remittances`, should be used as a tool for poverty reduction and economic development in the country of origin. During the last years, because the job market has been weak in many destination countries, remittances to developing countries are estimated to have fallen, even though existing migrants are not returning. Here I must stress the need to find ways of transferring funds more quickly, securely and cheaply to the recipient, which would help to facilitate productive investment in developing countries.

Implementation has started and must continue regarding a stronger relationship and dialogue with diaspora and the participation of migrant groups and Diaspora associations’ in EU policy-making, especially in the development process of their country of origin should be encouraged.

The EU must also improve the development financing instruments (The Financing instrument for development cooperation, European Development Fund and Humanitarian Aid) to provide an effective response to forced migration, or `refugees from hunger`. To do this, we should asses in terms of policy coherence and aid effectiveness of the above mentioned Programmes/Instruments.

The most vulnerable groups of migrants (women and children) should be given special attention. The States should ensure that the principle of non discrimination is applied with regard to migrant women’s access to the job market and to guarantee that their basic social and economic rights are respected. On the other hand, children who are migrating must benefit from high level of protection and easier access to health care and education.

As development leads to higher migration levels rather than slowing down the process, we should move from an approach based on `more development for less migration` to `improved management of migration` for more development.

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