Exploding the migration myths: Analysis and recommendations for the European Union, the UK and Albania
Author: Dalipaj, M; King, R; Mai, N
Author Organisation: N/A
The publication examines the causes and consequences of migration through a focus on Albanian migrants, with a view to de-mythologising contemporary migration issues and providing a framework for more effective policy debate and responses. It is designed to be a resource for policy makers, researchers, and general readers with an interest in migration issues.
Field research was conducted through interviews with 26 Albanians living and working in Southeast England, and 46 interviews with households in various parts of Albania. The general discussion on migration and ideas for a policy framework was written by experts in the field.
Hearing the voices of Albanian migrants themselves and the perspectives of their home communities enabled particular findings to emerge that are often lacking in the migration debate and its public representation.
These include the following:
- Many interviewees commented on the open-minded acceptance towards them in British society compared to other countries, although a few had encountered racism in the UK too
- Albanians working in the UK often support families back home by sending remittances, which are vital to the survival of those who remain, often in severely depopulated rural areas. They are used primarily for daily essentials such as food and clothing, then to improve living conditions and housing facilities. They are rarely invested in business ventures
- Few migrants want to return to Albania for good, owing to the country's poor economic and social conditions - poverty is the main push factor leading to emigration, along with political instability and inter-family conflicts in some cases
Other findings include:
- the proper management of migration can entail benefits for the host country, in supplying certain types of high-demand labour; for migrants and their families through improved incomes and livelihoods; and for the country of origin through the flow of incoming financial and, potentially, human capital
- these benefits are hindered by rigid EU and UK policies towards immigration, popular myths surrounding the nature of migration and certain migrant groups, and infrastructural and economic obstacles to injecting acquired capital to the development of the home country
There are two sets of recommendations, geared towards the ultimate aim of revised EU and UK government migration policies in order to maximise benefits for both host and home countries, and the migrants themselves.
For Albania these recommendations are:
- networks and debate forums should be established between the EU, UK and Albanian governments and migrant workers, so that their voices count in the development of migration policy
- the European Commission should amend its country strategy for Albania for 2002 - 2006 in accordance with Albania's development needs
- the EU should support the Albanian government in developing programmes to aid vulnerable communities in accessing credit and starting new businesses
- international aid should be directed towards impoverished communities in northern Albania
The UK government should:
- pursue a policy of managed economic migration for low-skilled workers
- implement entry criteria flexible enough for migrants to adjust to the UK's labour market and social conditions
- provide low-skilled migrant workers with the opportunity to settle in the UK and integrate into UK life, in accordance with other UK managed migration schemes
- establish a comprehensive support and education system for migrants on arrival in the UK
- address the problem of irregular workers without legal status currently in the UK by giving them permission to work for one year
- in combating the informal economy, focus on exploitative employers rather than migrant workers themselves
- ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families
- set a leading example in altering the representation of migration issues in public debate