Media release

International experts propose policy recommendations to EU institutions in the field of mobility and the diaspora

Photo: Andrejs Jaudzems
12 May 2015

On 11–12 May, a group of international experts proposed policy recommendations for European institutions on the issues of mobility and engagement with the diaspora at the conference entitled “How to Improve Intra-European Mobility and Circular Migration? Fostering Diaspora Engagement” which was convened under the auspices of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In view of the topical migration issue, Pēteris Elferts, Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Aldis Austers, the Chairman of the European Latvian Association, presented proposals on how to shape a more integrated and better functioning EU internal labour market and promote solutions in the field of mobility for EU citizens.

The recommendations propose that the next European Citizenship Report due in 2016 should focus more on mobile EU citizens and devote a year to European citizens’ mobility.

The year to be designated as the European Year of Mobile Citizens will be aimed at highlighting the issue of the right to freedom of movement for EU citizens and their family members, addressing legal, social, and cultural impediments, and strengthening the role of diasporas within the EU in economic growth.

In view of scaremongering in many countries concerning intra-EU mobility, the recommendations suggest countering negative perspectives on free movement of EU citizens and focusing on positive benefits.

The draft recommendations propose improving the quality of data on intra-EU migration flows and applying common standards for collecting and comparing the relevant data across the EU. Statistical studies should also be facilitated at local government level.

It has also been pointed out that special attention should be paid to foreign language proficiency of migrants and their family members in the destination country and native language skills during return migration. This is of special importance for a quick and successful integration of children in the destination country’s school system and that of their country of origin upon return. A wider network of European schools could be part of the solution.

The experts recommend speeding up, simplifying and making more visible the process for recognition of skills and qualifications for EU citizens. The participants welcomed the EC’s intention of drafting concrete proposals for improving intra-EU mobility (the so-called Mobility Package).

The conference brought together EU Member State government officials and experts from international organisations, including Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights; Egils Levits, a judge at the European Court of Justice; Walter Radermacher, Director-General of Eurostat; Elizabeth Collett, the Director of the Migration Policy Institute Europe, and other experts and representatives from EU non-governmental organisations and the diaspora.

The conference was organised by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Europeans Throughout the World association and the European Latvian Association. The event was supported by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs, the European Commission, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Nordic Council of Ministers' Office in Latvia.

Ivars Lasis
Press Secretary