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Another Migration Program....

October 6, 2020


Recently I read the quote (see left) published on LinkedIn by the head of the International Center for Migration Policy Development in Vienna, Austria.

It was in conjunction with the "The New Pact on Migration and Asylum" announcement by the European Commission, that aims at “a fresh start on migration in Europe”.

According to ICMPD "one of its pillars concerns skills and talent, with a number of measures presented to make the EU ready in the “global race for talent”. In order to win this race, it takes attractive and inclusive solutions for all parties involved."

My response to the announcement on LinkedIn was my concern based on over four decades of experience in and observation of the global migration scene. I wrote,

"The growing demand for skilled talent from underdeveloped countries may meet the requirements of the receiving countries. It will no doubt improve dividends for private sector investors. It does however rob developing societies of their most talented, best educated and the most attuned to their nations needs. Since the policy of attracting skilled migration from the underdeveloped world to the EU and the Americas has been in place for decades no amount of aid and remittances from the "receiving states" has made up for the loss of human capital that the "sending states" have endured."

In response Martin Pluim, Director Migration Dialogues and Cooperation at ICMPD wrote,


"Obviously brain drain is a key issue to consider. These ideas go much further. It’s about supporting the development of skills, ensure that certification is comparable internationally (and thus make the country attractive for private sector investments) AND creates opportunities for permanent or circular migration. The proactive involvement of individual companies with concrete investment interests is key here,."

Permanent migration is clear and unambiguous. In the context of migration movements it means that movement is one way and completed as an activity. It has  people moving from one location to another primarily in the interest of the person concerned and secondarily serving the interests of the country that accepts the migrant.

The rather recent policy wrinkle to this is the UN and EU supported concept of "circular migration".

According to Wikipedia "Circular migration or repeat migration is the temporary and usually repetitive movement of a migrant worker between home and host areas, typically for the purpose of employment. It represents an established pattern of population mobility, whether cross-country or rural-urban."

This is clearly a profit driven international scheme of politicians from "metropolitan countries" in concert with their global corporate supporters. In recent years both the European Commission and the Global Forum on Migration and Development have been promoting the idea of managed circular migration. 

In my view this concept will do little to improve the social and economic opportunities for the vast majority of people that live in countries whose best and brightest have for decades been siphoned off  to improve the balance sheets of corporations. 

A paper published in 2011 by Piyasiri Wickramasekara for the International Labour Organization entitled "Circular Migration: A Triple Win or a Dead End" was most illustrative of the problems associated with such schemes.

Nine years later and in the midst of a global pandemic this idea is once again being given serious consideration by the EU leadership. 

It is a policy that deserves to be revisited in light of the ILO report.