Free «Immigration and Migration to the European Union» Essay Sample

Immigration and Migration to the European Union


The European Union (EU) is an economic and political commonwealth of countries, which includes 28 countries (Paul 2015). The jurisdiction of the EU includes questions concerning a common market, customs union, common currency while maintaining the old currency by some of the members, the common agricultural policy, and the same fisheries policy (Pusca 2004). These days, migration has become an increasingly prominent factor in the European countries. Under conditions of globalization, there is a rapid movement of not only capital but also people to the European countries. The unprecedented flows of migrants from countries with weak and crisis economies rush to wealthy nations. However, many experts affirm that, in general, immigration has a positive impact on the development of any production. The purpose of the current paper is to study the impact of migration on the EU countries.

The State of the Problem

Nowadays, more than 500 million people live in the countries of the EU, Norway, and Switzerland (Klusmeyer & Papademetriou 2013). Furthermore, about 43 million were born outside these countries (Klusmeyer & Papademetriou 2013). Germany has been and remains the main point of the migratory flows, which settled over 10 million migrants (Klusmeyer & Papademetriou 2013). The population of Germany is the third in the world – after the United States and Russia – by the number of migrants (Klusmeyer & Papademetriou 2013). After Germany, there is France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy (Klusmeyer & Papademetriou 2013).

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Researches of migration processes and integration in the EU countries as a political, legal, and socio-cultural phenomenon are of great scientific and practical interest. For a long time, scientists have given different estimates of migration and integration policy in the countries of the EU (Feldman 2011). Politics of Germany and France was estimated as a policy of segregation, the UK – as the policy of racial separation, Sweden – as the policy of assimilation, Netherlands and Spain – as the policy with the emphasis on the rights of ethnic minorities (Feldman 2011).

Modern Europe is focused on the formation of migration policy facilitating legal migration, limiting illegal movement of people, the simplification of the rules of entry of highly-qualified experts and scientists, the integration of all residing migrants in the territory of the EU member states, as well as the creation of a single legal framework for the regulation of migration, integration, and ethnic diversity (Constant & Zimmermann 2013). Over the last few years, in European countries, numerous immigration laws and their socio-political significance were the subjects of public debates. “These debates took place against the background of a discussion about the role of migrant labor in advanced economies and societies, in some cases rising the populism and xenophobia, and, at least in some countries, still high unemployment” (Galgoczi, Leschke & Watt 2010, p. 3). At the present stage, there is no common policy in the field of regulation of migration processes in the EU (Constant & Zimmermann 2013). The EU migration policy currently remains within the competence of national governments that, in most cases, strongly develop programs to attract immigrants, as well as comprehensive programs of cooperation with countries – traditional exporters of manpower in Europe. Each country adopts its admission criteria (Constant & Zimmermann 2013). Frequently, states with the vast colonial experience adopt milder conditions for citizens of the former colonies than for citizens of other developing countries. On the supranational level, the problem of migration is mainly regulated by bilateral agreements, the Schengen Agreement, as well as individual chapters of the Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties (Constant & Zimmermann 2013).


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The specific nature of modern migration profile of the EU countries reflects the following key points – a selective policy of migration, entry restrictions for certain categories of migrants, the simplification of procedures for the acquisition of citizenship, and the increase of requirements for integration for newly arrived migrants. Other points include tougher sanctions for violating immigration laws, the departure from the segregation of migrants and the transition to a policy of integration.

The Process of Migration in the EU

The inhabitants of the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa began the mass migration to Europe about 50 years ago (Lutz, Richter & Wilson 2006). Prior to that, workers were invited in Europe on temporary work and without relatives. “At the end of the 1980s and during the first half of the 1990s, the fall of the Iron Curtain, a deterioration in living conditions, ethnopolitical conflicts and civil and interstate wars created new refugee flows and other migratory movements” (Lutz et al. 2006). These days, migration of families is dominated. Migrants strongly settle down in the countries of the EU. As a result, nearly 35 million immigrants have already settled in the countries of the EU (Waele & Kuipers 2013). Thus, Europe’s population is growing largely due to settled family immigrants. In recent years, women predominate among the streams of migrants. In accordance with the general laws of migration processes, people of the middle and younger age of labor activity and education migrate to the countries of the EU more often than those of the older age (Waele & Kuipers 2013). The majority of migrants have at least completed secondary education (Boswell & Geddes 2010). The most recent data indicate that the typical effect of the brain drain is not observed, because across the EU, the proportion of people with higher education among migrants is lower than among the local population as a whole (Boswell & Geddes 2010). The dynamics of migration is closely associated with the peculiarities of the socio-economic development of the countries in conditions of transition from central planning to a market economy. Closure of enterprises, privatization, and restructuring of the economy accompanied by a decline in the economic activity and labor productivity had dramatic consequences for the labor market and the welfare of the population. In such a way, people migrate to more developed European countries in search of a better life.

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However, indigenous people are not always satisfied with this neighborhood with immigrants. Besides, even internal migration can frequently be a cause of the displeasure of local inhabitants. For example, a great number of immigrants from Eastern Europe, especially Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria, became a reason for several protests in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. According to some local inhabitants, immigrants create competition in the labor market. Of the aforementioned 35 million immigrants currently inhabiting in the EU countries, 12 million are people that arrived from the EU member states (Waele & Kuipers 2013). They are the internal migrants in relation to the commonwealth. Despite the growth of immigration, unemployment in all EU countries is growing as well (Hansen & Hager 2012).

Labor Migration

Labor migration is a part of the structural changes in the economy (Gabriel & Pellerin 2008). It is believed that transboundary movement of the labor force contributes to the economic growth. However, the associated costs are obvious. They include an additional burden on infrastructure and social services, the reduction of the labor force in the countries that give the labor force, as well as problems of income distribution (Gabriel & Pellerin 2008). Studies at the microeconomic level identify the factors predetermining the adoption of individual decisions about migration or encouraging employers to hire foreign workers (Gabriel & Pellerin 2008). Significant incentives to emigrate are the difference between current and expected income in the country of immigration, the ability to find a safe workplace, and achieve a residence permit in the future. Employers are interested in using migrant labor not only in connection with the expansion of production capacity. Foreign workforce increasing labor supply in the certain qualifying segment of the country facilitates the survival of the enterprise that experiences competitive pressure but disposes of limited capital for investment in rationalization.

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According to the territorial model, the scale of inter-country migration flows is determined by a combination of such factors in the region of emigration as unemployment, the population growth, poverty, and economic stagnation (Paul 2015). As regards of the area of immigration, these factors include a shortage of labor, the rapid economic growth, and rising employment. There are also factors of a significant gap in wages between the regions of emigration and immigration, as well as geographic, language, and cultural distances.

Different European countries have different attitudes to the massive influx of immigrants. Nevertheless, they all share the presence of an active migration policy aimed at achieving specific economic and demographic objectives of a particular country (Paul 2015). Migration policy actively performs its economic functions relating to the resource provision of the production. Migration legislation of the EU countries favors the entry of highly educated professionals, as well as some groups of skilled workers who are in high demand (Arcarazo & Wiesbrock 2015). At the same time, it leaves a niche for temporary including seasonal unskilled workers. The influx of immigrants that have commercial capital and are oriented on business and investing is even encouraged. Western European countries actively use the European employment service to hire foreign workers from other countries (Arcarazo & Wiesbrock 2015). However, with the reduction of labor migration from Portugal, Spain, and Italy, there is the practice of concluding agreements on foreign workers’ employment of non-EU nationals on the principals of rotation (Arcarazo & Wiesbrock 2015). First of all, it concerns the countries of the former Yugoslavia and other Eastern European countries, as well as Turkey and the Maghreb countries (Arcarazo & Wiesbrock 2015). Thus, in accordance with bilateral programs of cross-border work, Czechs, Slovaks, and Poles, living at a distance of no more than 50 kilometers from the border with Germany, are allowed to work in this country on the condition that they return home every day (Arcarazo & Wiesbrock 2015). In addition, to attract experts in the field of information technologies, mainly from India, Germany annually allocates 20,000 visas (Arcarazo & Wiesbrock 2015).

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Currently, the tendency to increase the proportion of high-skilled workers in the total immigration has taken clear shapes. In France and the United Kingdom, there is a fast-track procedure for highly qualified specialists for issuing permits for their work (Paul 2015). Besides, some countries from the EU are more selective in terms of geography of recruiting foreign workers (Paul 2015). Thus, the authorities of certain states favor the influx of economic migrants from other EU countries while maintaining neutrality in relation to immigrants from the United States and Canada and creating barriers on the way of migrants from the third world countries.

Although the average level of education of migrants is usually lower than of the native population, their professionally qualified structure has a more pronounced polarization that reflects the peculiarities of the modern demand for foreign labor – for both highly skilled and seasonal workers. Immigrants make a significant contribution to the economic development of the host countries. Thus, in 1972, at the peak of labor migration, foreign workers produced more than 30% of GDP in Germany (Sunata 2011). The widespread use of cheap unskilled foreign labor was the basis for the functioning of a number of traditional industries. For example, immigrants represent half of all miners in Belgium.

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A significant contribution to the economy of the host country makes the so-called ethnic business (Schneider 2012). It unites ethnic entrepreneurs and workers. This business has received the greatest development in the service sector and trade. Production companies are created by immigrants mainly in the garment, leather, and food industries, construction, the publishing business, and other fields.

It is believed that a highly skilled workforce has usually a positive long-term impact on the economic development of a country while the impact of unskilled workforce is rather ambiguous (Sunata 2011). The latter is associated with the fact that on the one hand, the wide attraction of cheap labor in different industries can lead to reduced productivity while, on the other hand, the lack of elementary workers is detrimental to any production. In addition, filling the empty niches, immigrants contribute to the more effective application, as well as the growth of qualification of local workers and, thereby, the increase of their productivity (Sunata 2011). Significant savings on the wage of immigrants increases the income of entrepreneurs and usually promotes the growth of investment activity. In addition, promoting the increase of labor mobility, immigrants provide entrepreneurs certain cost savings related to the movement of capital (Sunata 2011). At the same time, the use of cheap labor may slow down the modernization of production.

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Despite the fact that numerous experts state that labor migration has a positive effect on the host countries, there are certain opinions that migration can lead to serious problems insight the country. Opponents of the import workforce state that immigrants only contribute to the growth of unemployment, and, as a result, increase the social tension and the level of crime often on the basis of ethnic conflicts (Hansen & Hager 2012).


These days, many people from different states rush to the countries of the EU in search of a better life. Immigration can have mixed and sometimes unpredictable economic and social consequences for the host country. In most countries of the EU, immigration plays a supporting role. It facilitates the adjustment of imbalances in the labor market, the proper functioning of the production, and activation of the investment process. Thus, in macroeconomic terms, immigration usually brings significant benefits to the host country. However, it is sometimes believed that the flow of migration contributes to the increase of unemployment and the emergence of ethnic conflicts.

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