Migrants – who represent 8.7 per cent of Europe’s population – actually make an important contribution to society in terms of the economy, demography, culture and politics, says the PACE Committee on Migration. The report by Athina Kyriakidou (Cyprus, SOC), adopted by the committee today, refutes the idea that migrants are a burden on public finances.
On the contrary, says the report, migrants fill labour shortages by accepting low-paid, dangerous, insecure and difficult jobs shunned by many nationals. In some countries, whole sectors of the economy – such as construction, seasonal agriculture, tourism, health services and household services – would be paralysed without migrants. The report states that their contribution as entrepreneurs is also substantial as they employ 2.4 per cent of the working population in the OECD countries, not to mention the contribution made to the economy by foreign students.
The committee adds that migration is a means of offsetting population decline and can be a source of cultural enrichment to host societies while contributing to intercultural and inter-faith dialogue.
The committee stresses the importance of integration in maximising the benefits that migrants can bring; the quicker and more successful the integration process, the more positive the migration experience will be for migrants themselves and for host societies. Integration policies are a key factor to this end, and the committee encourages member states to develop policies to facilitate migrants’ access to the labour market, offer them educational and training opportunities and give them greater possibilities for political participation.
The committee identifies family reunification as another key factor in integration – split families are never fully integrated – and points out that tackling discrimination and promoting equality are important for integration in the current context of racist violence towards migrants in certain countries, such as Greece.