Commentary Type

The Economic Challenges of Migration in Europe


The sudden surge of migrants into Europe, especially Greece and Italy, in late 2015 pushed the continent into a state of political and economic emergency. To date, no effective coordinated policy response has been agreed to, and the recent EU agreement with Turkey will not change the situation, even as the number of migrants reaching European shores is expected to rise again with the coming of spring. This paper analyzes how Europe has in recent decades successfully increased its inward migration levels to counter accelerating demographic decline, and especially how the policy of free movement of workers has been a remarkably successful channel for employment-based migration. Yet European countries today face an unprecedented challenge. Not only must they cope with the immediate consequences of the arrival of record numbers of asylum seekers, but governments also must decide how to treat asylum seekers whose petitions are denied. For those who are approved to stay, the next question is whether Europe's economies will generate enough jobs for them.

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