Policy Paper 24

The United Nations Convention on Migrant’s rights, a luxury for the European Union?

Everywhere in Europe, the concept of “integration” of migrants is used in an increasingly restrictive sense. France, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Greece and many other EU member states interpret it an exclusive rather than inclusive fashion. This Policy Paper focuses on the Convention of the United Nations on the rights of migrants and is the first publication of a new research program on the concept of integration in the EU. It examines the benefits of the Convention of the United Nations for Europe in the light of reforms recently adopted by certain Member States. Serving as a benchmark, the Convention helps to highlight increasingly restrictive practices in Western Europe and the dissemination of these practices by way of imitation from one member state to another.Available soon in English.

Migratory issues vie for the front page of many a European news paper. Indeed, beyond the haunting pictures of shipwrecked huddles on Spanish beaches and failed postulants crammed in immigration detention centres on the perimeter of our airports and harbours, current migratory movements are bringing into question our societies’ capacity for integration and whether they are prepared to honour their democratic traditions. They also put the European Union’s claims to a global role to the test.

The fact is that our ageing European economies’ competitivity rests on their capacity efficiently to absorb foreign workers. A harmonious working of the Single Market requires the solidarity and growing cooperation of the member states while our societies’ cohesion depends on a successful integration of legal immigrants. This being so, immigration is at the core of the European contract as often defined by Jacques Delors: “Competition that stimulates, cooperation that strengthens, and solidarity that unites.”

This Policy Paper centred on the United Nations Convention on Migrants Rights opens for us a new round of analysis on the issue of integration in the framework of our research pole “Competition, Cooperation, Solidarity” in the light of the reforms recently introduced in some Member States, Marie barral takes a fresh look at the United Nations Convention as applicable to European countries. Her paper, drafted in collaboration with Stephen Boucher under the supervision of Mario Cinalli offers a sturdy base for critical thinking. It points a devastating finger at increasingly restrictive formulae devised in Western Europe and spreading by osmosis from one country to the next. It thus brings into light the growing gap between the fine theories for external consumption, urging democratic values of tolerance, non-discrimination and open-mindedness on the one hand, and on the other, the practices dictated by preoccupations with security and exclusion.

Unsurprisingly, this Policy Paper chimes in with the European Parliament, the European economic and Social committee and numerous non-governmental organisations when calling for a ratification of the United Nations Convention by the Member States. It also arrives at the conclusion that the elaboration of a legal European immigration policy is called for as a matter of urgency. This is a way forward that Notre Europe will explore in depth in research to come.