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December 17, 2015

EU summit to be dominated by refugee crisis and Brexit demands

Leaders of EU countries will meet in Brussels today for an end-of-year summit set to be dominated by the ongoing refugee crisis on the continent.

UK prime minister David Cameron’s demands for EU treaty renegotiations, which he hopes to secure ahead of the forthcoming “Brexit” referendum, are also likely to be a theme of the summit.

Some EU countries have recently reintroduced border controls, contrary to the Schengen agreement on freedom of movement, in response to the unprecedented influx of 900,000 migrants to the continent this year.

Earlier this week, the European Commission published a migration strategy including plans for a new European border and coast guard, and tougher checks at the Schengen area’s external borders.

Tim Hatton has written for IZA World of Labor about EU asylum policy. He writes that “The most realistic option would be to first set the central policy to obtain the optimal number for all the countries together and then to reallocate asylum-seekers to obtain the ‘right’ number for each country,” arguing that this is both economically desirable and politically feasible.

David Cameron will also address fellow leaders about the EU policy areas he wants to see renegotiated ahead of the UK referendum on continued EU membership, scheduled to take place by 2017. This includes a proposed four-year ban on migrants from other EU countries claiming benefits in the UK, which goes against existing EU protocols on non-discrimination.

Corrado Giulietti has written for us about the “welfare magnet hypothesis”—the idea that migrants select destination countries based on the generosity of their welfare systems. He argues that this is not the case, and that migrants in fact face greater risk of poverty than natives, which welfare systems do not adequately address. He argues that: “the expansion of welfare programs that tailor the active integration of immigrants in the host labor market is a desirable policy intervention.”

Related articles:
Setting policy on asylum: Has the EU got it right? by Tim Hatton
The welfare magnet hypothesis and the welfare take-up of migrants by Corrado Giulietti
Find more IZA World of Labor articles on migration policy