April 13, 2015

“Worrying” increase in illegal EU migration

The number of illegal migrants entering Greece by sea tripled in the first three months of this year, increasing to 10,445 migrants compared with 2,863 for the same period in 2014.

Typically, people smugglers’ boats disembark paying passengers on Greek islands near Turkey such as Mytilene, Chios, Leros, and Samos. In March alone, 6,493 illegal migrants arrived in Greece where they sought asylum or travelled further into the European Union (EU).

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Commissioner for Migration, said on Wednesday that the EU was "worried" by the current asylum system and was "conscious that something has to change" in the rule that finds migrants the sole responsibility of the first country they arrive in, which disproportionately burdens southern states such as Greece and Italy.

IZA World of Labor author Tim Hatton has written about the EU’s policy toward asylum-seekers, which has historically been rather controversial. He says that "burden-sharing measures are needed in order to achieve an optimal distribution of refugees across member states."

The welfare of the migrants is at risk due to the overloading of smuggling vessels and bad weather overturning boats, which often proves fatal. A united EU policy on illegal migration is needed so that these frontier countries are not left to fend for themselves.

Pia Orrenius has written more on border control, writing that over-enforcement can be "costly" and even lead to "an increase in fraudulent and falsified documents and rising border death rates as migrants undertake more dangerous crossings."

Nonetheless, policymakers must not forget the economic benefits that migration can bring. Klaus F. Zimmerman advocates free movement of migrant workers, stating that: "Policies that restrict worker mobility often backfire, with workers resorting to illegal means of entering the country. Free labor mobility is more likely to generate benefits for all sides."

Read more here.

Related articles:
Setting policy on asylum: Has the EU got it right? By Tim Hatton
Enforcement and illegal migration by Pia Orrenius
Circular migration by Klaus F. Zimmermann