UNITEE participates to the INTERPARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE MEETING: The European Agenda on Migration – What about Legal Avenues and Integration?

On Wednesday, 24th of January 2018, the European Parliament hosted the Interparliamentary Committee Meeting on “The European Agenda on Migration – What about Legal Avenues and Integration?”

UNITEE took part in the event, represented by Mr. Osman Kimil, UNITEE’s Vice President and Head of Unipack, who was one of the panelists during the meeting’s fourth session.

The European Agenda on Migration is a comprehensive response to the priorities identified in the Political Guidelines of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The Agenda includes proposals for fighting irregular migration, reinforcing common border management, strengthening the common asylum policy, and launching a new policy on legal migration.

The European Parliament took a very comprehensive stance to “the crisis” in its resolution of 12 April 2016. In it, the EP called upon the EU the duty to create legal avenues to migration, and to facilitate integration in order to manage human mobility in a sustainable way.

The overall discussion concerned background, perspectives and challenges of the EU’s response to the current migration challenge. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss in depth  the need to create legal avenues to migration, and to facilitate integration in order to manage human mobility in a sustainable way. During this one-day event, Parliamentarians at both national and European level exchanges their views on this topic with a number of representatives of EU institutions, bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations, local governments, academics and think-tanks.

The event was structured in 4 sessions and a closing panel. The first session, titled: The European Agenda for Migration – Legal avenues and integration two years on”, was chaired by MEP Claude MORAES, LIBE Committee Chair and Rapporteur on the Blue Card Directive, and started with a Keynote speech by Mr. Felipe GONZÁLEZ MORALES, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.

As a representative of the Bulgarian Council Presidency, Mr. Tsvetan TSVETANOV outlined why the European Union should enhance legal avenues to deal with migration. After expressing his views on the European Agenda on Migration and the European Blue Card dossier, Mr. Tsvetan TSVETANOV recalled that migration will be one of the main topic in the next Parliamentary elections in 2019 and that a common EU response to deal with it was necessary. During his speech, Mr. Felipe GONZÁLEZ MORALES explained that the so-called migration crisis was in fact a crisis of political will and therefore it is important to change how migration is perceived. According to Mr. Felipe GONZÁLEZ MORALES, migration policies should both facilitate the mobility of people – by increasing the legal channels for migration and establishing appropriate visa facilitation regimes – and ensure the protection of external borders. On the management of migration, Commissioner Dimitris AVRAMOPOULOS, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, pointed out that the EU should move from a crisis management mode to a long-term, structural approach. In this light, Commissioner AVRAMOPOULOS underlined a number of recent EU initiatives such as the two successful EU resettlement schemes; the proposed EU Resettlement Framework; and the reform of the European Blue Card. On integration, Commissioner AVRAMOPOULOS highlighted the need for a “whole-of-society” approach.  Finally Ms. Fatma ŞAHIN, Mayor of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, nominated in 2016 for Nobel Peace Prize, took the floor to explain which policies are adopted in Gaziantep to mitigate the large flows of migrants and to ensure good humanitarian solutions. With that in mind, Ms. Fatma ŞAHIN focused on certain initiatives – mainly in the field of education – that are implemented in order to protect and integrate migrants in Gaziantep.  

The second session, chaired by MEP Sophie IN’T VELD, Rapporteur on the Reception Conditions Directive, was opened with a speech from Peter O’SULLIVAN, Resettlement Officer in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Bureau for Europe, on Resettlement.

As defined by UNHCR, resettlement is “the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another State that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement”. During his intervention, Mr. Peter O’SULLIVAN explained that efficient integration policies are necessary and beneficial both for the resettled refugee and the receiving country. Then, Ms. Violeta MORENO-LAX, Lecturer in Law, Queen Mary University of London,   discussed the role of visas for legal avenues. During her speech, she underlined the evolution of EU policies and initiatives when it comes to visas and legal pathways to manage migratory flows. Ms. Marietta KARAMANLI, Member of the French National Assembly, then underlined the need to deal with migration both at EU and international level. Moreover, Ms. Marietta KARAMANLI declared that the EU should both be able to deal with migration crisis as well as to develop medium and long term migratory policies. Then, the French Parliamentarian stated that the EU should establish a common framework to deal with economic migration based on strong partnerships with third countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Finally, Mr. Nikolaos PARASKEVOPOULOS, Member of the Hellenic Parliament,  stated that it would be wrong to think that strengthening the EU’s external borders would reduce the migratory flows and recalled that some Member States did not fulfil their engagements on relocation. On the renovation of the Dublin Regulation, Mr. Nikolaos PARASKEVOPOULOS explained that it as a unique opportunity to put in place a permanent relocation system. Generally speaking, the Greek MEP explained that it is crucial to find a compromise between national needs and that the EU solidarity would have to prevail at the end.

The third session started in the afternoon and it was chaired by MEP Roberta METSOLA, Co-Rapporteur on “The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration”, Chair of the EP Asylum Contact Group.

The discussion followed with a presentation of Ms. Claire COURTEILLE, Director of ILO Brussels, on legal avenues for labour migration to the EU – gaps and prospects. During her speech, Ms. Claire COURTEILLE declared that heads of state and government should enhance routes for legal and regular migration. Moreover, Ms. COURTELLE affirmed that it is important to assess current and future labour market needs and shortages. On ILO, Ms. Claire COURTEILLE recalled that a number of non binding instruments were recently adopted to ensure efficient and inclusive labour market policies based on the principles of equal treatment and opportunity between migrants and national workers. The next panelist was Mr. Thomas HUDDELSTON, Programme Director of Migration Policy Group, who discussed the obstacles to the exercise of the right to family reunification (implementation of Directive 2003/86/EC). He also explained that the right to family reunification is an entry channel enabling those who already reside legally in a Member State to be joined by their family members. Although this right to family reunification had been long facilitated in Europe for the last decade, Mr. Thomas HUDDELSTON regretted that a number of Member States – such as Sweden, Finland, and Austria – had introduced in 2016 temporary restrictive measures delaying the integration process. Subsequently, Mr. Jacek KURZEPA, Member of the Polish Sejm for the Law and Justice Party, underlined that Poland has the fasted growing migrant population in the EU and recalled that the country is using simplified procedures to grant work permits. The role of national authorities in the management of migration was also stressed during the Polish Parliamentarian’s intervention. Finally, Ms. Laura FERRARA, Shadow Rapporteur on the Blue Card Directive, identified a number of areas the EU should focus on, such as helping the countries of origins; addressing the root causes of migration; the issue of human trafficking; competitiveness; and the right to family reunification.

The main topic of the fourth session focused on the opportunities and challenges migrants are facing in the integration process. The Chair of this session was MEP Jean LAMBERT, EMPL Rapporteur on the Blue Card Directive, Shadow Rapporteur on “Refugees: social inclusion and integration into the labour market”.

The topic was introduced by Mr. Thomas LIEBIG, Senior Migration Specialist, OECD, who presented good practices for the integration of migrants and refugees. According to his research, Thomas Liebig explained that it is important to have tailor-made integration solutions and to focus on early integration – especially for children. Moreover, Thomas Liebig stated that civil society should be more engaged  and that heads of state and government should perceive integration as an investment. Subsequently, Mr. Miltos PAVLOU, Senior Programme Manager – Social Research of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, explained his recent research findings on concrete integration measures. According to him, integration policies should aim at creating a “fruitful environment” for migrants especially by focusing on certain areas such as employment, housing, education, and the involvement of migrants in the social life.

Mr. Osman KIMIL, Vice President of UNITEE and Head of Unipack, then presented his own experience as an European entrepreneur and employer with a migrant background. He started by pointing out that, based on his experience, the first challenges of an immigrant are the language barrier and the cultural differences. He then explained that migrants have proved to contribute to the European market in terms of diversity, skills’ potential and opening up to new markets. He mentioned UNITEE as an example of EU umbrella organization whose mission is to value the contribution of New Europeans. He also underlined that encouraging entrepreneurship is the best way to ensure migrants’ integration, to overcome fears and prejudice. Mr. Kimil then concluded by sharing his experience as employer of some refugees from Afghanistan, and by underlying how important it is to scale up such examples of integration.

MEP Susana AMADOR, Vice-President of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, then gave an overview of the integration policies and the management of migration in Portugal in recent years. MEP Susana AMADOR insisted on the human rights perspective and judged that there should be bi-monthly indicators in certain areas (education, language trainings, health). Finally, Mr. Dimitrios KALOGEROPOULOS, Rapporteur for the Committee of the Regions for the Mid-term review of the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration, discussed the role of regional and local authorities for integration. Moreover, Mr. Dimitrios KALOGEROPOULOS regretted that certain Member States were taking a very populist line, not respecting Schengen and playing the fear card.

The closing speech was held by Mr. Eugenio AMBROSI, IOM Regional Director for the EU,  who presented the future of migration governance in the light of the IOM initiative Global Compact for Migration.


Report by Victoire Radiguet

UNITEE Roundtable: “Building bridges: the role of New European entrepreneurs in the European Neighborhood Policy”

On Wednesday 27th September, UNITEE – The New European Business Confederation hosted the high-level roundtable Building bridges: the role of New European Entrepreneurs in the European Neighborhood policy. The roundtable was organised as part of the constant work of UNITEE to contribute to establish a positive narrative of migration. In this regard the topic chosen, at the crossroads between economy, migration and development, is of a particular interest in the framework of the currently discussed European Economic Diplomacy Strategy, together with its wider efforts to stabilize its neighborhood.

The event, set in the intimate setting of UNITEE’s office in Place du Luxembourg 2, 1050 Ixelles, took place from 12.30 to 14.30. It was an opportunity for policy makers, practitioners and experts to debate on the important role migrant entrepreneurs can have in contributing to the political strategies of the EU in the relations with its neighborhood, if given the chance. The speakers were called to reflect on questions such as: Is there really a positive effect of New European entrepreneurs on their country of origin? How could the European Neighbourhood Policy take advantage from the engagement of New European entrepreneurs in order to pursue its long-term objectives of stabilisation and economic growth?

The roundtable started with an opening remark by MEP Brando Benifei, from the S&D group. Mr Benifei drew on his experience as Rapporteur for the labour market integration of refugees to remark the important contributions New European entrepreneurs give to the European economy and society; he pointed out that in some countries, such as his native Italy, from 2011 to 2015 migrants have been disproportionately creating jobs and companies. For this reason, Mr Benifei argued that this contribution needs to be acknowledged and fostered by national and European institutions: he called for unnecessary burdens to be scrapped, together with suggesting the possibility of using the Blue Card directive to help entrepreneurs from abroad to launch their business in the EU.

After Mr Benifei’s introduction, the roundtable started with an intervention by Christophe Yvetot, the Director of UNIDO‘s Brussels Office. Mr Yvetot presented the role of his organisation in focussing on industrial development, with the objective of bringing about sustainable development, circular economy, and renewable energies in developing countries. He pointed out that the strategy behind these actions is connected to migration, since it aims to stabilise people in their countries of origin: indeed, data showed that industrial development had an unparalleled role in reducing poverty. In this, he mde a specific reference to the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), showing how UNIDO is collaborating with the EU to develop the Euro-Med industrial cooperation. Finally, he explained the two parts of UNIDO’s approach to migration: first, to provide opportunities; and secondly, to bring about circular migration.

After Mr Yvetot, it was the turn of Geertrui Lanneau, Senior Senior Regional Specialist on Labour Mobility and Human Development for the IOM Regional Office for the EU to present her remarks. Ms Lanneau began her remarks by noting the great entrepreneurial drive of migrants: 25% of all entrepreneurs in the UK, for instance, have a migrant background. This is part of a wider set of contributions diasporas have, both in Europe and in their countries of origin: first of all, they bring development and wealth to their countries of origin, through remittances. Secondly, they also contribute socially: in Europe, they create jobs; in their countries of origin, they bring skills and know-how. Nevertheless, Mrs Lanneau noted that this second contribution is somewhat limited by the fact that even many New European entrepreneurs find it hard to invest into their countries of origin, due to corruption and red tape. Finally, she mentioned the relevant role female entrepreneurship can play, and the need to support it through projects such as IOM’s MIDA program.

The next speaker was Giacomo Mattinò, Head of Unit Enterprise Network and Internationalisation of SMEs, DG GROW, at the European Commission. Mr Mattinò focussed his intervention on the tools DG GROW provides for the internationalisation of SMEs and, in general, to create an environment conducive to entrepreneurship in the EU. In general, the European Commission does not distinguish among entrepreneurs: all can apply. First of all, he referred to the Enterprise Europe Network, that aims at supporting SMEs in their ventures abroad: this is made even more necessary by the fact that 90% of European SMEs export beyond their borders.  Another tool to foster entrepreneurship is the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, that provides the possibility for aspiring entrepreneurs to spend some time abroad in order to learn a business.

Finally, the roundtable was closed by Adem Kumcu, President of UNITEE. In his remarks, Mr Kumcu drew on his personal experience to provide an overview of the activities, and challenges, of organising migrant entrepreneurs and advocating for them at the European level.  He noted that the correct engagement of migrant entrepreneurs is strategic for the EU: only by easily integrating and making the best use out of the diversity of New Europeans, will Europe be able to meet today’s challenges, ranging from an aging society to an increasingly competitive economy. Dr Kumcu also presented some initiatives undertaken in the past by UNITEE with the aim of favouring this engagement, such as its cooperation with the Union pour la Méditerranée and its partnership with UEAPME.

In general, the event showed the many different aspects in which New European entrepreneurs have an important, and currently undervalued, role to play in the relationship of the EU with its wider neighborhood. In the current situation where a successful and long-term integration strategy is more and more important, acknowledging the opportunities migrant entrepreneurs hold is a first step for a more sustainable future for Europe.


Programme of the event

When: 12.30 – 14.30

Where: Place du Luxembourg 2, 1050 Ixelles

12.30-12:50: Welcoming of participants and light lunch

12:50-13:00: Opening Remarks by Brando Benifei MEP (S&D, Italy)

13:00-14:10: Roundtable with the following speakers:

  • Christophe Yvetot, Head of UNIDO’s Office to the European Union
  • Giacomo Mattinò, Head of Unit Enterprise Network and Internationalisation of SMEs, DG GROW, European Commission
  • Geertrui Lanneau, Senior Regional Specialist on Labour Mobility and Human Development for the IOM Regional Office for the EU, Norway and Switzerland.
  • Dr. Adem Kumcu, President of UNITEE

Moderated by Giovanni Collot, Editor of The New European magazine

14:10-14:30: Q&A with the audience


More information on the roundtable can be found on Twitter, under #buildingbridges.