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Prospects for International Migration Governance


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MigPros stands for "Prospects for Migration"- it is a five year project funded by an Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council awarded to Professor Andrew Geddes, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield. MigPros compares migration prospects in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and South America. Its current progress: 300 interviews with élite policy actors were conducted across the regions, including 84 in Europe/EU. This presentation is about its three preliminary findings on the meanings and drivers of migration governance and more.

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Prospects for International Migration Governance

  1. 1. Prospects for International Migration Governance Strengthening Migration Governance: The role of Inter-institutional Coordination and evidence-based policy making 27-28 October 2016 – Tunis, Tunisia By: Luca Lixi` By: Luca Lixi Funded by the European Union République Tunisienne Ministère des Affaires Etrangères
  2. 2. • A 5 year project funded by an Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council awarded to Professor Andrew Geddes, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield. From January 2017, Director, Migration Policy Centre, European University Institute, Florence, Italy. • Comparing Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and South America • Progress: 300 interviews with élite policy actors conducted across the regions, including 84 in Europe/EU What is MIGROSP ?
  3. 3. The presentation: 1. Share preliminary findings of the MIGPROSP project on International Migration Governance 2. Look at how these apply to the case of the European External Migration Governance
  4. 4. The drivers of migration governance • How do actors in migration governance systems understand the causes and effects of migration? • How do they understand and try to manage key risks and uncertainties? • What effects do these understandings have on institutional responses now and in the future?
  5. 5. The meaning of migration governance • Migration occurs as a result of change in underlying economic, social, political, demographic and environmental systems. • Migration governance is not a simple response of an institutional framework to an exogenous migration shock because these governance systems play a role in defining their challenges as a result of the way in which they define their own borders and boundaries • The ways in which élite policy actors understand these change can be seen as the drivers of migration governance • The way migration is understood as a phenomenon leads to defining it as an issue (problem/opportunity/challenge/threat) and can then shape the way solutions are developed for it
  6. 6. Emerging findings 1 • A new normal? “These 250,000-280,000 irregular migrants a year, that’s basically what we have to count on in the foreseeable future. Nothing will change in this regard.” Structural problems like poverty, inequality and conflict are seen as key drivers of these pressures, likely to continue this trend. Communication on Partnership Frameworks of the Commission uses the same language… “External migratory pressure is the ‘new normal’
  7. 7. A new normal, but… • A new normal seen as requiring a new approach in migration governance • But…..What emerges is a strongly reactive tendency, leading to a status quo bias. • Key tension of migration governance in times of changing dyanamics • Changing the rulebook problematic because of the potential unforeseen consequences in a highly politicized policy field
  8. 8. Emerging findings 2 • The causes and limits of deterrence Deterrence: key theme in migration policy making, especially in EU/USA/AUS Linked with a particular view on the causes of migration, with a strong emphasis on PULL FACTORS.
  9. 9. The causes and limits of deterrance • Understanding of causes of migration shaped by centrality of economic factors as reasons to MOVE and CHOOSE destination country • This means that a country’s attractiveness and openness (ease of entry, rights, benefits) could drive migration • Response of governance is deterrence: efforts to make country X less attractive, to limit migration to it. • Reductive: over emphasises pull factors, downplays the push factors and ignores important role of migrant social networks.
  10. 10. Emerging finding 3 • Climate change is a problem, but it’s for the future… When asking how causes and effects of migration might change in the future, CLIMATE CHANGE emerged as a driver. “You’re going to have climate. Clearly, the effects of climate change will become a big driver of migration”
  11. 11. Climate Change, driver for the future… • Interesting because: 1. There is evidence that environmental issues already play a role, but these are only projected in the future by policy makers 2. This is indicative of an inertial and reactive tendency in migration governance, a difficulty of planning ahead, also due to uncertainty of the consequences of certain actions
  12. 12. • Overall we see: Reactive tendency that overfocuses on pull factors and lacks of capacity to be proactive and anticipate the unfolding nature of drivers of migration.
  13. 13. • So how are these elements reflected in the development of an European External Migration Governance in the Mediterranean?
  14. 14. • My focus on the European side comes from progress of research so far… • By external migration governance however, I include all EU and non EU actors, governmental and non governmental, that impact on the shared management of Mediterranean migration.
  15. 15. Migration governance and crisis • Developments of the migration governance in Europe have followed perceptions of being vulnerable to oubreaks of migration crisis. • This vulnerability linked to perception of migration as a security problem, from the early 1990s onwards. • Developments followed this line…
  16. 16. Between the short and the long term SHORT TERM Reactive tendency Focus on immediate results Bilateral approach with TC Narrow focus External Migration governance as a negotiation processes LONG TERM Proactive tendency Focus on long term Multilateral inclusive processes Comprehensiveness External migration governance as a joint shared effort
  17. 17. The short term approach • The approach evident since the early European migration governance developments in the 1990s • Linked to the perception of crisis, outbreak of mass influx. In Europe, this risk was seen as coming from the East. • Resulted in a security based reactive tendency
  18. 18. • The "ease" of migrating often seen as a pull factor, a driver of migration: – Big focus on smuggling as a driver of migration – Critics of search and rescue, ie. Mare Nostrum – Emphasis on return measures as deterrent for future migrants – Externalizing border control
  19. 19. • External relations in this light carried out as negotiation: "It is frustrating to see, but the reality is that external relations of migration are seen as a this for that, a pure negotiation of international relations" • No space for developing common understanding of causes of migration, resulting in keeping diverging positions.
  20. 20. The long term approach • Since early 2000s, a well documented clash between reactive migration governance and call for comprehensiveness. • Following the lead from the UN as well, development of the root causes approach. • Most notably at EU level, Home Affairs vs DEVCO, NEAR, External Action…
  21. 21. • Changing the perspective on causes of migration: – More emphasis on push factors – Poverty, inequality, instability… – Push for creating regional dialogues, processes and platforms to jointly discuss migration management issues (EUROMED, Rabat, Khartoum, Valletta).
  22. 22. An unresolved dispute • In interviews it appeared very clearly how this clash is still present today • It also emerged how very different conceptions on the causes and consequences of migration are held by different actors in different institutional contexts
  23. 23. • This becomes even more evident when reaching out externally: "When we deal with partner countries, it is evident that we have different sensibilities…a very different understanding to the problem, to migration, to borders. It is quite hard to reach common solutions in these circumstances"
  24. 24. Conclusions • 3 things have emerged: 1. The importance of understandings of migration as drivers of governance. Strong link between this and the way actions in governance unfold. Great divergence has been found between different actors, leading to a polarization between short term reactive measures and long term comprehensive action plans.
  25. 25. Conclusions • 2) The status quo bias In light of new challenges, tendency to look back within the frame of the same institutional setting. Despite new ideas are brought forward, they largely fit within this dichotomy, evidencing how the uncertainties of new proactive measures lead to relying on the status quo as a risk averse strategy.
  26. 26. • 3) A long history of cooperation Despite criticized for ripening little successes, 25 years of Mediterranean integration have led to developing avenues for cooperation. Strong need to use these spaces to develop shared understandings of the underlining systems that drive migration (social, political, economic, environmental), before devising a list of deliverables and solutions.
  27. 27. • For more information, please visit or write to: • The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) / ERC Grant Agreement n. 340430