Security, labour market needs and demographic aspects characterise temporary transnational mobility

Submitted on Tue, 06/06/2017 - 14:30

The EURA-NET research project, which investigated the characteristics of  temporary migration between European and Asian countries, showed that questions of security, labour market needs and demographic challenges characterise the current migration policy at both national and the EU level.

In all of the European and Asian countries in the study, the administrative practices and regulations on visas, residence permits, family reunification and other such matters favour the highly educated.

The international three-year research project EURA-NET (Transnational Migration in Transition: Transformative Characteristics of Temporary Mobility of People) was funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme. The Faculty of Education at the University of Tampere coordinated the study conducted in twelve European and Asian countries. The countries were Belgium, China, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.

The project investigated decision-makers’ and authorities’ views on the temporary mobility between European and Asian countries (n=395) at both European and national level. In addition, migrants who had been classified as temporary and their family members (n=883) were interviewed in eleven countries.

The findings show that a common challenge both European and Asian temporary migrants face is adaptation to the host society. Both decision-makers, authorities and the migrants themselves find that the current integration policies do not really apply to temporary migrants. The research results were similar in all of the Asian and European countries studied. What Asian and European migrants also had in common was that linguistic barriers were the most significant obstacle to adaptation. On the other hand, it must be noted that the receiving societies do not always recognise the situation and needs of temporary migrants; for example, it is not realistic to expect fluent language skills of people who only stay in the country for a limited time.

In Europe, the so-called asylum crisis has led to more severe attitudes to immigrants and growing concerns about national security, which has resulted in increasingly restrictive and selective immigration regulations in several countries. Such national policies are not always consonant with the reality of labour and skills shortage in the longer term. Other unfavourable consequences of strict policy regulations, such as increasing irregular migration, have also emerged.

The analysis also showed that Asian decision-makers highly value the human and material capital the returning migrants bring back to their home countries. In Asia, this can be seen also on the level of politics and decision-making, but the situation is quite different in Europe. Many returnees find that their skills and expertise are not appreciated in the labour markets and that they can expect no support measures from society.

“Europe thus loses the valuable expertise the migrants have accrued abroad. On the other hand, China, for example, actively invites the Chinese living abroad to return to China, and the returnees’ financial and human capital is efficiently utilised in the development of the Chinese society and economy,” says Professor Pirkko Pitkänen, director of the EURA-NET project.

The EURA-NET project website

For more information, please contact:
Professor Pirkko Pitkänen, tel. +358 50 420 1536,
Senior Postdoctoral Researcher Mari Korpela, tel. +358 50 318 6131,