OSW Report

MIGRATION CHALLENGES in the European Union's Eastern Neighbourhood


In recent years, both in Poland and across Europe, the problem of international migration has been transformed from an issue which merely concerned a narrow group of analysts and officials into an area of interest for broad social circles and an important element of state policy. The significance of migration as a topic of public discourse has increased considerably. This has resulted from the emergence of migration challenges which are different from those that had hitherto existed, and which require new studies to be conducted and changes to be introduced in government policies. On a global scale, the total number of migrants has increased (according to the UN Population Division, currently there are approximately 200 million migrants worldwide - in 1980 this number was half that size), the participation of women in migration processes has increased, and the economic imigration has become a constant element of national labour markets. In addition, the process by which migrants concentrate in several of the world's most developed regions, is constantly ongoing. In Europe, migration has become a key topic of the public discourse in light of the ever more apparent difficulties with integrating migrants, and as well as the deepening demographic crisis.

Within the framework of the European Union a trend towards a progressing internationalisation of the migration issues has been observed, which requires current national concepts of migration policy to be changed. To date, Poland has not developed a coherent concept of its migration policy. However, mass labour migration, the demographic crisis, and increasing gaps in the labour market demands that this problem be dealt with urgently.

The area of Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus is characterised by its own migration specifics. Due to the two waves of enlargement of the European Union, that area more and more strongly participates in an immigration exchange with EU states. In this situation, the European Union will probably pay closer attention to migration flows on the territory of the former USSR. This publication should be treated as an analysis aimed at recognising and systematising the main migration trends in the states of the EU's eastern neighbourhood. This study contains analyses of both the general trends and the migration situations in the individual countries of this area.

This study covers the migration challenges in Eastern European countries (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova) and the Southern Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia), that is, in those countries of the former Soviet Union, which border or will border in the foreseeable future with the territory of the European Union and are recipients of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which are not included in the study, are EU member states, whereas the Central Asian states do not participate in the ENP. However, due to numerous legal and factual interdependencies existing within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the discussed problem will (when justified) be presented within the perspective of the entire region.

Considering the difficulties with defining the phenomenon of international migration, the most general definition of this term has been assumed in this publication. 'International migration' will be deemed to refer to every relocation of a person outside the borders of his own country of residence, except for tourist or official trips. From the perspective of a given country, migrants are either immigrants or emigrants, i.e. persons staying in or leaving the country. Migrants will also be classified into permanent and temporary categories. The specifics of the migration situation in the post-Soviet region makes it impossible to apply the typology of 'temporary migrants' recommended by the UN, namely dividing the migrants into long-term (more than 12 months) and short-term. This is because (apart from legal migration for settlement purposes) irregular temporary departures, i.e. those whose duration cannot be specified, are most typical for this area. Similar difficulties are posed by the use of the refugee terminology adopted by the UNHCR. Reasons for this include the fact that in the first period of their independent existence, many countries assumed entirely different legal solutions, such as registering refugees as forced migrants.



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