Issues in the Developed World
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Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 11: International Labour Migration in the EU: Likely Social and Economic Implications
T. El-Cherkeh Introduction With 56.1 million migrants, Europe has become one of the major regions of destination for international migrants (GCIM, 2005). European countries are confronted with ageing populations and declining workforces. As a result, shortages in the labour markets are likely to worsen in the future, and Europe will almost certainly have to increasingly rely on immigration to foster economic growth and to maintain current levels of welfare. Yet in various European countries migrants experience difficulties in accessing the labour markets and, moreover, face unfriendly environments. Many obstacles stand in the way of immigrants who seek employment, related to labour market rigidities, the non-recognition of qualifications and skills, or discriminatory behaviour. As a result, the labour market performance of migrants and their descendants is consistently below that of natives. Current national policies are based on experiences with earlier waves of labour immigration that turned unintentionally from temporary migration to permanent settlement. The reluctance of the societies to act upon this development with appropriate integration measures resulted in the marginalization of migrants and their offspring, who are disproportionately disadvantaged in education and labour market participation. As a consequence, public perception towards immigration tends to be generally negative in many European countries. This contributes to restrictive national policies. Liberalization is therefore highly contested, and national policy makers first consider reforms that influence the domestic labour supply before having recourse to labour migration. In October 2007, the proposal for a so-called ‘EU Blue Card’ provoked much negative reaction to the question whether...
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