The Immigration Game

Green Papers, as they are called in Europe, or White Papers, as they are known in America and Britain, are often mere rhetorical essays – government-backed studies that state broad principles unlikely ever to be applied in practice. The recent Green Paper released by the European Commission on international migration is no exception.

Indeed, the Paper is a hodgepodge of illogic and half-baked ideas that aims at “launching a public debate” on the issue, “choosing a bottom-up, rather than a top-down approach.” But while the objective is to “harmonize policies towards economic migrants across the EU,” the Paper states at the outset that decisions on this matter should remain solely under the jurisdiction of national governments. Some of the rules that it proposes are unenforceable – and thus merely a source of red tape for migrants and their employers that would require huge public bureaucracies to administer.

Co-ordination of national migration policies will remain a dream if decisions continue to be kept under the exclusive responsibility of national governments. There is no sign in the EU that national regulations on economic migration are converging.

Policies on migrants are becoming increasingly tough, especially in those countries that already had the most restrictive provisions. Since 1995, there were 26 reforms of migration policies in the EU-15: two-thirds tightened regulations by increasing procedural obstacles faced by visa applicants, reducing the duration of work permits, or making family reunification more difficult.