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Circular migration: is this the answer to Europe’s migration dilemma?

Motion for a resolution | Doc. 12598 | 18 April 2011

several Assembly members
Mr Tadeusz IWIŃSKI, Poland, SOC ; Mr Alexandros ATHANASIADIS, Greece, SOC ; Ms Doris BARNETT, Germany, SOC ; Ms Maryvonne BLONDIN, France, SOC ; Mr Georges CHARALAMBOPOULOS, Greece, SOC ; Mr Boriss CILEVIČS, Latvia, SOC ; Mr Titus CORLĂŢEAN, Romania, SOC ; Mr Nikolaos DENDIAS, Greece, EPP/CD ; Ms Mirjana FERIĆ-VAC, Croatia, SOC ; Mr Gvozden Srećko FLEGO, Croatia, SOC ; Ms Pernille FRAHM, Denmark, UEL ; Ms Annick GIRARDIN, France, SOC ; Mr Kastriot ISLAMI, Albania, SOC ; Ms Virág KAUFER, Hungary, SOC ; Ms Birgen KELEŞ, Turkey, SOC ; Mr Adrian NĂSTASE, Romania, SOC ; Mr Johannes PFLUG, Germany, SOC ; Mr René ROUQUET, France, SOC ; Mr Leonid SLUTSKY, Russian Federation, SOC ; Mr Christoph STRÄSSER, Germany, SOC ; Ms Tineke STRIK, Netherlands, SOC

Circular migration is touted as one of the answers to Europe’s migration problems. The aim is to encourage migrants to move repeatedly between the country of origin and the host country.

On the face of it, circular migration is a triple win situation: the host country receives the migrants they need, when and where they need, without longer integration concerns. The country of origin benefits by employment opportunities being found for its national, from remittances and from brain gain. The migrant benefits from legal migration channels, employment and experience. Furthermore, everyone should gain from the system of regular migration rather than irregular migration.

However, is the reality different? Who is actually gaining from current circular migration programmes? Is circular migration viable in the context of increasing restrictions on migration and tight visa policies? Are there dangers? Is this a form of hidden exploitation? Are people willing to dislocate from their families to come and go? Will migrants come and not return? What sort of work suits itself to circular migration? Will the experience be different for an eastern European working in an European Union member state, or for a north African or sub-Saharan African working in an European Union or Council of Europe member state? How does circular migration affect migrant women as opposed to migrant men?

The Assembly needs to examine:

  • how effective circular migration can be in practice in today’s political and socio-economic context?
  • what are the human rights and humanitarian implications affecting these “part-time migrants”?