A dynamic long and short term approach to migration between MPC’s and the EU: Demographical framework and the role of economic and social reforms

FEM32-06 | July 2008


« A dynamic long and short term approach to migration between MPC’s and the EU: Demographical framework and the role of economic and social reforms »


Alejandro Lorca, Professor, AGREEM – UAM, Spain and Rafael de Arce, Professor, AGREEM – UAM Spain


Ramón Mahía, Professor, AGREEM – UAM; Gonzalo Escribano, Professor, UNED, AGREEM; Sidi Mohamed Rigar, Professor, Cadi Ayyad University; Eva Medina Moral, Professor, UAM; Gema Garcialoro, Professor, UNED

Note :

This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union within the context of the FEMISE program. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Summary :

Migration has become a priority to European policy-makers. It is also a crucial dimension of EU-Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC’s) relations. However, the lack of a coherent European Migratory Policy makes it difficult to develop a consistent migratory policy towards MPC’s. The focus of policy-makers is clearly on control and return measures, rather than in active integration policies. The argument of this study is that socio-demographic dynamics in the euro-mediterranean region are so strong that creates a significant ‘migratory pressure’, defined by the study as the result of demographic and socio-economic conditions.

Under this conditions, focusing exclusively in borders control and return measures is clearly sub-optimal as a policy formulation. Under different scenarios, this study concludes that immigration flows from some MPC’s (mainly Morocco and Turkey) will remain high in the long run. However, there are significant differences among scenarios and simulations show that the EU can implement policies to diminish the intensity of push effects.

The purposes of this study can be summarized as follows:

  • To provide a quantitative measure of migration potential of European (receiving) and MPC’s (sending) countries given its current demographical trends.
  • To anticipate the most reliable future demography – migration scenarios that will arise in the long term
  • To present a rich quantitative described migration map between the EU and selected MPC’s, identifying the past, current and future trends.
  • To measure the relative weight of the main macro – economic and social – structure variables in the current evolution of EU-MPC’s migratory flows.

The aim is to provide an analytical basis:

  • For the understanding of real and potential migration movements from the selected MPC’s to the EU.
  • For the formulation of economic and social policies which directly or indirectly affect the migratory phenomenon.
  • For the formulation of co-operation policies and international relations programmes with a broad socio–economic foundation.

The empirical hypothesis is that in North African countries and Turkey, demographic trends and changes in activity rates will lead to a fast increase in the working age population, which added to insufficient labour creation, will raise the structural imbalance of the labour market. Meanwhile, the opposite will occur in European countries. This opposite trends could be complementary enough to counterbalance or not, given the different scenarios of demography, labour market demand/supply evolution, socio-economic progress, and barriers removed or built up at both sides of the “board game”.  In this conceptual framework, this research project tries to measure this equilibrium in a baseline socio–economic–demographical scenario and, in addition, to identify the key variables that could be critical for changing this baseline.

The study is organized as follows. A first chapter is devoted to EU immigration policies, to foresee if a European Common Migratory Policy can emerge and what could be its nature. The second chapter focuses on demographic trends, as the reality that the policy framework should face. The third chapter develops a model to identify the main reasons that explain Euro-Mediterranean migrations, and then proposing different futures according to alternative scenarios. The purpose is to allow policy-makers to translate into different futures the impact of alternative strategies. Given that it is a long run exercise, the alternative scenarios does not represent short run policies, but rather broad strategies that should be ideally implemented by consistent policies.

The results of simulating different scenarios to estimate immigration flows highlight the following figures:

– The total period summation would be of approximately 2,400,000 immigrants entering the EU-15 during the 45 projected years. In the lower scenario this figure goes down to close to 1,500,000 immigrants.

– For any scenario, as expected, the higher numbers of immigrants came from Morocco and Turkey, the countries with a higher labour force surplus due to its demographic migratory potential.

– Morocco will experience an emigration flow between 1.422.000-906.342 people in the higher and lower scenarios, respectively.

– Relating this figure with the potentially emigrant population previously estimated (3,8 million people for the 2005-2050 period), migration flows from Morocco could oscillate between 23% and 37% of this population segment.

– For Turkey, the interval would oscillate between the lower figures of 481.000-318.000 migrants.

– For Tunisia, the considered scenarios project more modest figures between 52.000-37.000 migrants.

– For Egypt, projected migratory flows to the EU-15 are not significant.

– For Algeria, the scenarios point to a migratory band between 432.000-290.000 migrants.

Concerning scenarios:

1. The business as usual scenario is the one that tends to show a higher number of immigrants over the long run.

2. The slow convergence scenario reduces slightly the number of immigrants, reflecting that a moderate convergence pattern in MPC’s economies does not imply a significant reduction of immigrants.

3. The fast convergence scenario is the one that projects the lower figures of MPC’s immigrants, but even in this case the numbers still very significant.

4. The social policy, income inequality reduction, scenario also projects lower immigration figures, but does not alter the trend of migration towards the EU.

5. The low employment growth scenario generally shows lower immigration figures than the business as usual one, but numbers still high.

6. The high employment growth scenario projects a further reduction of MPC’s-EU migration, but a smaller one that the projected under the fast convergence or social policy scenarios.

From this perspective, under any scenario immigration flows remain significant and it is evident that migratory pressure will not be properly faced only by recurring to Europeanised control and return policies, and that Europeanised integration policies are clearly needed. Second, differences across scenarios are significant in the numbers, not in the trends. The scenarios with he lower immigration figures are the fast convergence and the social policy ones. This implies that the EU should prioritise accelerating fast convergence and implementation of social redistributive policies in MPC’s countries.

However, these measures will, at best, slightly reduce the number of immigrants. Socio-economic-demographic logic allow for different futures, but in any of them immigration will be a key driver of EU-MPC’s relations and of internal EU demographic dynamics.