Thanks to their multiple backgrounds, New Europeans have important assets to offer to Europe in an increasingly complex and competitive economic environment. Not only are they job creators, but thanks to their dual cultural background and their entrepreneurial spirit, they are also key players in the development of innovative products and services and in the internationalisation of European SMEs. They also contribute to the rejuvenation of European society, and contribute to the flow of goods, people and information across borders. Understanding this contribution to the European Union’s society and economy was at the core of the New European Forums.
UNITEE organized the New European Forums. Two conferences that were held under the Patronage of and inside the European parliament in Brussels, on June 4th 2015, with the aim of enlightening the added value migrants bring to the European Union. During the second conference, entitled “Modern Pioneers: The Economic Impact of New Europeans”, panellists and participants discussed a wide range of topics such as how to overcome the aging phenomenon, the changing structure of the European economy, the challenge of attracting all kinds of people, and why the EU turns out to be an administrative obstacle to mobility.
The panel was composed of:
• Fredrik Erixon, Director of European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
• Christof-Sebastian Klitz, Head of the Volkswagen Group EU Representation in Brussels
• Belinda Pyke (keynote speaker), Director for Migration and Mobility at DG HOME
• Madi Sharma, Member of European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
The conference was opened by a speech from Adem Kumcu, President of UNITTE, who also moderated the debates.
Overcoming the aging phenomenon
Belinda Pyke started her keynote speech by stating that the demography of Europe is changing due to aging population. Due to this phenomenon, the Union will soon face an important lack of workers. Madi Sharma, strongly enjoined young people to act now: “The European Union was founded on words. You have only one mouth. But you have two hands. So, actions, not words!” Fredrik Erixon stressed that the first issue that must be taken into account is demography: due to the aging phenomenon, we must rely on migration to provide Europe with young workers.
The changing structure of the European economy
Belinda Pyke also stressed that the economy is changing in its structure. Some sectors will soon be in an urgent need of more workers that migration can provide. Fredrik Erixon backed that statement, saying that our exchanges with developing countries are increasing, and service production is taking over industrial production.
Attracting all kinds of people
As a continuation, Belinda Pyke insisted on the fact that the Union has to attract more people, especially students. In addition to students, the Commission created the European Union Blue Card Directive to attract more highly skilled workers. Christof-Sebastian Klitz added that Europe does not need only educated people, but people with a width range of skills. Fredrik Erixon advocated the creation of hubs in the EU, in order to raise productivity and salaries and become more attractive. This strategy implies that workers have to be able to move easily and freely across borders.
The EU as an administrative obstacle to mobility
Madi Sharma, insisted on the fact that the EU administration system makes it very complicated for people to launch their own business,: “Administrative steps are a nightmare”. Christof-Sebastian Klitz exposed how Volkswagen notably launches vocational training programs across borders, in Spain, Portugal, and Italy. He also stressed that mobility is still very complicated for workers because of various administrative barriers. Fredrik Erixon also said that the characteristics of the political map have an influence on the attractive power of a region. On this subject, Belinda Pyke said that the European Commission adopted the European Agenda of Migration to organising both illegal and legal immigration in the Union Member States. The European Commission is also in the process of setting EU legislation against all discriminations on the labour market.
Adem Kumcu closed the debates by declaring that “there is no doubt about the added-value of New Europeans. But there are still a lot of challenges to tackle.”