Published on People Move

Labor Mobility and Circular Migration: What are the challenges of the Stockholm Program?

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I recently gave a presentation and participated in a conference organized by the Swedish Presidency of the European Union(EU) on “Labor Migration and its Development Potential in the Age of Mobility"on October 15-16. The conference focused on two main themes: a) Labor immigration, and b) Circular migration and its development potential.

Speakers and participants discussed the importance of improving labor mobility in Europe given demographic changes. New players such as China and India are competing for global talent. The EU should become an attractive market for immigrants if it wants to remain competitive in the coming decades.  Within this context mutual recognition of skills and accreditation becomes key for developing countries. (See my previous post)

Circular migration is not a new concept. Participants agreed that there is a need for more data and research on circular migration to develop policy evidence approaches. There has been an increase in “Mobility Partnership Pacts” but there is no assessment of what these mobility pacts are trying to achieve. For example, Moldova signed a mobility partnership agreement in 2008. Moldova was interested in repatriating it's citizens back to the country. On the contrary, Cape Verde’s mobility partnership program is focused on better visa policy and border control. India has just initiated discussions with the EU to have a labor mobility agreement. The agreements that India is signing are more biased towards exporting high skilled professionals in the health care sectors, information technology, biotechnology, hospitality, etc. These agreements are different from those that Spain has signed with Ecuador, Senegal and Mauritania, and from France’s co-development agreements. However, there has not been a systematic analysis on these different agreements. In order to draw lessons in expectations for further proliferation of these type of agreements, it will be important to do more evidence based research.

After the conference, the Swedish Presidency of the EU presented the first draft of the  Stockholm Program  that “specifies the framework for EU police and customs cooperation, rescue services cooperation, criminal and civil law cooperation, and asylum, migration and visa policy for the period 2010-2014”. This program will be presented to Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs and Foreign Ministers in December, prior to adoption by the European Council on December 10-11, 2009.


Sonia Plaza

Senior Economist, Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice, World Bank

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