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Rethinking the Attractiveness

of EU Labour Immigration Policies

Comparative perspectives on the EU,

the US, Canada and beyond

Sergio Carrera


Elspeth Guild

Katharina Eisele

Cecilia Malmström

















The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) is an independent policy research institute in Brussels. Its mission is to produce sound policy research leading to constructive solutions to the challenges facing Europe. The views expressed in this book are entirely those of the authors and should not be attributed to CEPS or any other institution with which they are associated or to the European Union.

This book falls within the framework of NEUJOBS, a research project financed by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme and coordinated by the Economic Policy section at CEPS. For more information about the project see www.neujobs.eu ISBN 978-94-6138-417-1 © Copyright 2014, Centre for European Policy Studies and the authors.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise – without the prior permission of the Centre for European Policy Studies.

Centre for European Policy Studies Place du Congrès 1, B-1000 Brussels Tel: (32.2) 229.39.11 Fax: (32.2) 219.41.51 E-mail: info@ceps.eu Internet: www.ceps.eu


Foreword Cecilia Malmström

1. The Attractiveness of EU Labour Immigration Policy Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild and Katharina Eisele

Section I. Rights and Discrimination

2. Rethinking Migrant Rights Martin Ruhs

3. Are there trade-offs between openness, numbers and rights in Britain’s immigration policy?

Bernard Ryan

4. Labour Migration, Temporariness and Rights Ryszard Cholewinski

5. Migrant Integration in 2020 Europe: The Case for Integration Partnerships Anna Triandafyllidou

Section II. Qualifications, Skills and Needs

6. Qualifications, Skills and Integration Maria Vincenza Desiderio

7. Challenges in Skills Identification, Anticipation and Monitoring Natalia Popova

8. Labour Market Needs and Migration Policy Options:

Towards More Dynamic Labour Markets Martin Kahanec

9. Falling Through the Cracks: Third-Country Nationals and the Recognition of Qualifications in the EU Katharina Eisele

Section III. International Perspectives

10. Rethinking Attractiveness: The Case of South America Diego Acosta Arcarazo

11. Labour Migration in Canada: A Matter of ‘Supply’ and ‘Demand’ Christina Gabriel

12. An Overview of Labour Migration Policies in the United States Maryellen Fullerton

Section IV. The Next Generation of EU Immigration Policy

13. Which Way Forward with Migration and Employment in the EU?

Kees Groenendijk

14. An EU Immigration Code: Towards a Common Immigration Policy Steve Peers

15. Rethinking the Attractiveness of EU Labour Immigration Policy:

Context and Challenges Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild and Katharina Eisele

16. The Next Generation of EU Labour Immigration Policy:

Conclusions and Recommendations Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild and Katharina Eisele

Annex 1. EU Legal and Policy Instruments on Labour Immigration.

........134 List of Contributors

List of Abbreviations

Programme of the Expert Seminar


W ith migration once again very much in the political spotlight, there is a real need to deepen the debate and define future policies. That is why the publication of this book is very timely. The decision to look at experiences in different parts of the world is most interesting. The debate in the EU – where we are facing one of the most difficult migration crises in decades, particularly at our southern borders, will remain lively.

The debate is also animated in countries like the United States where it has been triggered by the “comprehensive migration reform” proposed by the White House in 2013.

Migration remains a complex societal phenomenon. Effectively managing migration flows means taking account of all the economic, social and human dimensions, and, obviously, of their external implications.

Relations with countries of origin and transit need to be upgraded, as well as the link between migration and development policies.

This book contributes to a rational and forward-looking reflection about labour migration policies, bearing in mind the contribution that migration can bring to reducing skills and labour shortages and, more broadly, to addressing the consequences of long-term demographic trends in the EU, with an ageing population and a shrinking workforce. In this context, it is also important not to forget the positive cultural impact migration has on societies, contributing to diversity, new ideas and innovation. The comparative approach – looking also at migration policies in Latin America, the United States and Canada – allows us to learn lessons from other countries’ experiences and their often-different migration traditions and perspectives. What emerges clearly is that the challenges faced in terms of effectively managing economic migration, and its interaction with economic, labour and social policies, are rather comparable for many countries.

The responses have also evolved over time as a reaction to specific situations: an economic crisis, acute shortages and increased demand in certain sectors, or simply as a response to public perceptions. The EU, however, seems less able at the moment – compared to other developed i ii  CECILIA MALMSTRÖM countries and regions – to attract the economic migrants it needs to enhance its economic competitiveness, particularly highly skilled ones. The challenge before us, to use President Juncker’s words, is for Europe to become “at least as attractive as the favourite migration destinations such as Australia, Canada and the US”. This urge was also clearly reflected in the Strategic Guidelines the European Council adopted on 26 June 2014, when stating that Europe must develop strategies to maximise the opportunities of legal migration.

Labour migration has been one of the most difficult policies to harmonise at European level: EU member states are strongly attached to their competence in this area, which helps to explain the complexity, to say the least, of the EU acquis on the matter. But we did manage to lay the foundations of such a common policy. Eight directives have been adopted, harmonising admission conditions and rights of non-EU nationals residing in the EU for different purposes. This includes highly skilled workers, through the Blue Card and Intra-Corporate Transferees Directives,1 and lessskilled workers – no less needed – through the Seasonal Workers Directive.2 The first section of this book debates a provocative and interesting question in relation to migrants’ rights: Is there a real trade-off between the rights granted to migrants and the openness of migration policies? In other words, is the restriction of such rights a pre-condition for more open admission policies, as argued by one of the contributors to this book? This is a relevant question in the current context of economic crisis, and at EU level the debate on rights to be granted to non-EU nationals has taken place regularly with the member states and the European Parliament when negotiating equal treatment clauses. In some cases, this has resulted in exceptions to some social security rights, e.g. family or unemployment benefits, for certain categories of non-EU nationals (typically, those staying temporarily and/or low-skilled). This also reflects the national laws and practices in most EU member states, which tend to restrict social security

Council Directive 2009/50/EC of 25 May 2009 on the conditions of entry and residence

of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment and Directive 2014/66/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 15 May 2014 on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an IntraCorporate Transfer.

Directive 2014/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the condition of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers.

FOREWORD  iii rights and benefits – particularly non-contributory ones financed through general taxation – granted to temporary migrants, as compared to long-term and permanent residents.3 My answer to the question would be threefold: first of all, contrary to a widespread perception, most empirical studies have shown that the fiscal impact of migrants – the ‘burden’ of migrants on the host state’s public finances and social security system – is negligible, i.e. neither significantly positive nor negative, and is in most cases positive when it relates to labour migrants, particularly if they are highly educated or highly skilled.4 Secondly, reducing migrant workers’ rights might not only reduce the attractiveness of the EU for those migrants we do want to attract – bearing in mind that access to social security, educational systems and conditions for family reunification, to name just a few, can be as important as wages and other working conditions – but may also lead to unfair competitive advantages for those employing migrants and therefore negatively affect local workers. Thirdly, when assessing costs and benefits, it would be misleading to reason only in purely economic terms: the impact of migrants in a host society needs to be considered in a broader context, and account has to be taken of the broader societal costs of having ‘second-class’ workers and individuals, with fewer rights and possibly perceiving themselves as being discriminated against. A labour migration policy that relies heavily on temporary migration schemes – characterised by more limited rights granted to migrants – may entail high costs in terms of social disruption and lack of cohesion within society.

This leads me to the multifaceted question of integration of migrants, addressed in Section I of the book, which is an essential component of any well-managed migration policy, and is also closely linked to many other policies (employment, education and social policies, for example). While this area remains primarily a member state’s responsibility, some provisions regarding integration have been introduced in the EU acquis on legal migration and a number of tools and platforms have been developed at EU

See the European Migration Network (EMN) study on “Migrant Access to Social

Security and Healthcare: Policies and Practice” (2014), available on the EMN website (http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-wedo/networks/european_migration_network/index_en.htm).

OECD (2013), “The Fiscal Impact of Immigration in OECD Countries”, in International Migration Outlook 2013, Paris: OECD Publishing; see also E. Guild, S. Carrera and K.

Eisele (2013) (eds), Social Benefits and Migration. A Contested Relationship and Policy Challenge in the EU, Brussels: Centre for European Policy Studies.

iv  CECILIA MALMSTRÖM level to support and provide incentives for member states’ actions, especially to facilitate exchange of knowledge and best practice and favour dialogue with relevant stakeholders (such as the network of National Contact Points on Integration, the European Integration Forum, the European website on Integration, and EU Handbooks and Modules on integration). Projects developed at national level have been financed through the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals, covering, for example, the organisation of language classes, orientation courses, intercultural dialogue and efforts in schools and education systems. Additionally, a smaller share of the Fund has been used to support transnational projects, to further capitalise on valuable experience of integration policies and practices.

Member states’ cooperation has also led to significant progress in the field of monitoring migrants’ integration outcomes, leading notably to a set of common, comparable indicators. Over the years, this type of ‘soft’ harmonisation has led to a certain approximation of member states’ integration policies. But much remains to be done in this sensitive area, for example, regarding migrants’ political rights and the path towards citizenship, and we must bear in mind that any measures to favour integration need to take into account the different national and local contexts and to involve all the stakeholders concerned.

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