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Migration to Europe expected to rise

5 February 20240 comments

Europe will see an increase in migration this year as people try to reach the continent before new laws come into place that aim to cut the number of arrivals, a new report says.

The report, from the Vienna-based International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), also says political uncertainty in Europe fuelled by several upcoming election across the continent will see a rush of people come to Europe before immigration systems in countries and the EU change.

ICMPD Director General Michael Spindelegger says this amounts to a “closed-shop effect”.

“People will hear all these measures on migration announced in election campaigns and will think they have to be here in the EU before they come into force,” he said.

Mr Spindelegger, a former vice-chancellor and foreign minister of Austria, urged politicians to create legal routes and partner with private enterprise to set up recruitment and training centres in the African and central Asian countries from where many migrants are coming to Europe.

“I think we will see more refugees coming to Europe, even bigger numbers than 2023. Election campaigns will be about quick fixes, but we also know that there is not one solution and these quick fixes will not lead to a decrease of migration,” he said.

Mr Spindelegger said that contrary to the xenophobic messages of many anti-immigrant, far-right politicians, Europe needs migrants if it is to maintain a critical workforce, with labour shortages across the bloc.

The ICMPD report says the war in the Middle East and the prospect of Donald Trump regaining power in the United States would lead to huge flows of people.

It says a US crackdown on migratory routes could result in a rise in the number of Venezuelans and Colombians using visa-free visitor routes to Spain.

And new migration laws agreed by the EU late last year will initially be a pull factor rather than a deterrent for many people trying to get to Europe before they come into force later this year, the report says.

Recently, the EU commission cited the need for a million more workers in the EU to keep pace with demographic change, and that it was a challenge to achieve that in an orderly way.

Mr Spindelegger said the numbers might be much higher, with a million needed in Germany alone and 500,000 in Austria.

“If the private sector cannot recruit, it will simply move investments elsewhere. We have to make sure companies are not waiting some years before they get the workers they need,” he said.

“If they don’t get them within a short period of time, companies will move out in a different country and we lose the investment. So we have to speak up about the need for migrants.”