Category Archives: EU migration

29/6/18: Can, Foot, Road: EU ‘Agreement’ on Migration Crisis

The EU27 have a new 'deal'. This time, on revamping the block's migration strategies in the face of continued relentless wave of refugees fleeing to Europe from Syria and North Africa, propelled or aided to take desperate actions by the regime change doctrine of Washington. Migration numbers are down roughly 90 percent from their peak in 2015, and fell 45 percent y/y in the first half of 2018. But, voter revolt against the system that is perceived as "open borders" is still fuelling rise in political opportunism and extremism across Europe. The latest catalysts for the negotiations have been: (1) the rise of anti-immigrant parties in Germany that now threatens the uneasy governing coalition in Berlin, and (2) the arrival to power of the new, anti-immigration coalition in Italy. To be more precise, Italian Government has been asking for the EU to take "concrete steps" to share burden of accepting refugees with Italy for some time now. Other  catalysts have been governments of Hungary and the Czech Republic, where current political leadership has been opposing the EU policy of imposing automatic quotas for accepting migrants.

Earlier today, following almost nine hours of negotiations, the EU27 finally hammered out a compromise deal, immediately labeled in the media as 'political fudge' - something the EU has been very skilled at achieving for a good part of the last 20 years.

To prevent Italy from exercising a veto on the deal, the EU agreed to redistribute arriving migrants away from the country of their original landing to "control centres" spread across the EU. Centres locations are to be specified later. "Control centres", funded out of unspecified funds, but presumably payable by the joint resources of the EU, will de facto trade 'local jobs and euros' for communities accepting large scale migrants detention centres. This model works well with military bases and jails, and can be attractive to some poorer Eastern European countries, as well as countries like Greece and Italy. The key to this is that the detention centres will only be located in countries that volunteer to accept them. In simple terms, immigration policy is now a part of fiscal redistribution scheme, just what Italy wanted.

"Control centres" will function as a triage point, with “rapid and secure processing” separating economic migrants from those with a potentially legitimate claim to the asylum. Thereafter, successfully pre-screened asylum seekers will be distributed under the principle of solidarity (quotas), although, in a bow to Czech and Hungarian governments, solidarity principle will apparently be voluntary too. In other words, "rapid" processing will likely end up being a 'lengthy detention' in "control centres", as many Governments will simply refuse to take in asylum seekers, while other Governments will end up being swamped with applicants.

To restrict the numbers of those reaching the EU borders in the first place, the EU meeting agreed to provide more funds for Turkey and Morocco to act as buffers for refugees. Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia are to get funding for setting up 'processing centres'. Or, put differently, the EU will be paying more to warehouse migrants offshore, something that is likely to lead to lengthy detention in questionable conditions.

As a support for embattled Angela Merkel, the agreement also states that the nation states can “take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures” to stop refugees and migrants crossing Europe’s internal borders. Whatever this means for the Schengen agreement and borderless travel, time will tell.

My view: The migration agreement is nothing more than another kick to the proverbial can that was stuck in the cracks on the proverbial road toward addressing the migration crisis. It fails to address actual modalities of asylum process, the key being the length of the process, lack of alternatives to highly costly and questionable (in ethical and even international law terms) deportations of failed seekers, and the lack of clarity of rules and resources for allocating successful asylum seekers. It also failed in effectively dealing with migrants inflows: a 'buffer zone' on the southern shores of the Mediterranean simply increases costs of making the crossing, and thus increases the risk of crossing to migrants. It does not remove the incentives for making the journey. In the case of Libya and Egypt, there are questions about these states' capacity actually control their borders, primarily arising from the nature of the Government regimes in both countries. In case of Syria, ability to seal off inflows of refugees from the country hinges on stabilisation of the Assad regime, as no other participant in the Syrian civil war has any interest in controlling Syria's Mediterranean coast. In effect, the EU agreement does not tackle the main issue at hand: how to reduce the inflows of both economic migrants and refugees into Europe. Likewise, the EU agreement does not even touch upon the need to structure effective measures (legal and institutional) to improve integration of the successful migrants into the European societies.

In short, we will be back to this issue soon. Mark my words.

29/8/15: Migration & Natural Changes in Irish Population: Migration by Nationality

Having looked in the previous post at top level data for population changes in Ireland reported by CSO, now let's take a look at composition of migrants flows by nationality. This is going to be charts-heavy.

Let's start with immigration flows. Chart below shows Immigration into Ireland over the recent years:

Several interesting aspects of this jump out:

  1. There has been a significant increase of inflows of people from the 'Rest of the World' (ex-EU). Numbers of those coming into Ireland from outside the EU are up at 30,400 in 2015 from 25,500 in 2014. Pre-2015, average annual inflows of immigrants from outside the EU was 15,722, so last year things were pretty much ahead of the average for the third year in a row. Much of this is probably driven by big hiring numbers from multinationals which are increasingly moving their EMEA and MENA operations into Ireland. 
  2. There has been a small uptick in the number of new comers from the Accession States (EU12), the numbers of which rose to 12,800 in 2015 compared to 10,000 in 2014. This is the second highest inflow rate since the start of the crisis. 2006-2014 average for these inflows (29,078) is still significantly above 2015 figure. Again, I would suspect that much of this increase is accounted for by MNCs and also by demand for particular skills. Note: I will blogging on skills matters subsequently in a separate post.
  3. There has been virtually no change in inflows of people from the UK over the last 3 years, so nothing worth spotting here in terms of trends. Rest of EU-15 immigration flows also were relatively static, up to 8,900 in 2015 compared to 8,700 in 2014. Nonetheless, this has been the busiest year for EU15 migration inflows (ex-UK and Ireland) for some time - since 2009.
  4. Number of Irish nationals returning rose from 11,600 in 2014 to 12,100 in 2015. Which, kind of directly flies in the face of a number of media reports about 'returning migrants'. Apparently, the migrants are not quite returning, as current rate of immigration in Ireland by Irish nationals was the second slowest on record and much closer to the lowest year (2014) than to the third lowest (2013).

Now, consider emigration figures:

Again, few things worth a closer look:

  1. Irish emigration continued to decline in 2015 for the second year in a row. 2014 emigration of Irish nationals stood at 35,300 down from 40,700 in 2014 and down substantially on crisis period peak of 50,900 in 2013. The rate of emigration is now closer to 2006-2014 average of 29,444 that before, but it is still substantially above that number. Crucially, in more normal times, emigration by Irish nationals stood at around 13,700, which is well below current levels.
  2. Emigration by UK nationals out of Ireland remained pretty much stable and on-trend. Historical pre-2015 average is for annual outflow of 3,467 and in 2015 the number was 3,800. Emigration by the nationals of the EU15 states (ex-UK and Ireland) was up in 2015 at 15,600 compared to 14,000 in 2014. The rate is rising now for two years and is well ahead of 9,078 average for 2006-2014 period. This is interesting, as it reflects some shift in MNCs employment: in the past, MNCs were focusing much of their hiring on old EU markets, demanding language skills from these countries. Now, it seems the momentum is shifting toward ex-EU15 markets. Notably, pre-crisis average emigration by EU15 nationals stood at 6,667 per annum, very substantially below the 2015 figure.
  3. In contrast to EU15 pattern, emigration by the Accession EU12 nationals fell significantly in 2015 to 8,500 from 10,100 in 2014. This is the slowest rate of outflow for any year from 2007 on and significantly below the 2006-2014 average annual rate of outflow of 15,478.
  4. Rest of the World (ex-EU) emigration picked up, rising to 17,700 in 2015 compared to 14,100 in 2014 and against the 2006-2014 average of 9,9833. The reason for this, most likely, is the turnover of MNCs-employed tech workers and specialists who tend to stay in Ireland for 2-3 years and subsequently leave. 

So last remaking bit of analysis will have to cover net immigration / emigration:

As consistent with the number discussed above:

  1. Rate of net immigration from the 'Rest of the World' (ex-EU) picked up somewhat in 2015, rising to 12,700 from 11,200 in 2014. This is the highest rate of net increase in ex-EU population in Ireland for any year between 2006 and 2015.
  2. Second noticeable change in 2015 was positive contribution of EU12 (Accession states) nationals, with their net immigration at 4,300 in 2015 marking the first positive net result since 2008.
  3. EU15 (ex-UK and Ireland) net emigration remained significant and increased, with 6,700 more nationals of EU15 (ex-UK and Ireland) leaving Ireland than coming into Ireland in 2015, up on 5,300 in 2014. This marks the third year of rising net emigration by EU15 nationals out of Ireland and 6th consecutive year of negative net immigration by this group of residents.
  4. Irish nationals net emigration from Ireland remained very substantial in 2015 at 23,200. The number is lower than 29,200 net emigrations recorded in 2014 and the lowest reading in 4 years, but it is still well above the crisis period average. In simple terms, things are getting worse slower in this metric, they are not getting better.

Combined 2008-2015 net movements of people by nationality are shown in the chart below. Since 2008 through April 2015, there are 5,200 more UK nationals residing in Ireland, while the number of EU12 migrants rose 11,100. By far, the largest net emigration on a cumulative basis relates to outflow of Irish nationals: between 2008 and 2015, 132,400 more Irish nationals left the country than came back into the country - annual average rate of net emigration of 16,600 and in 2015 annual net emigration for Irish nationals was 6,700 above that.