Resilient evil: new and old migration discourse

Andreu Domingo, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The aim of this paper is to analyse, first, the genesis of a new kind of pro-migration discourse, which has appeared in the wake of the economic crisis in the European Union and, second, its contradictions vis-à-vis the policies of the individual member states and the European Union as a whole. The relative shortage of young people ready to enter the job market owing to an aging population all around Europe, the forecast downturn in the birth rate owing to declining fertility, the resultant shrinking populations, and the competition for highly-qualified workers had already harbingered an imperative need to rethink the treatment of migration. With the economic crisis, migration seems to have swung from being the problem to being the solution. I suggest that this change is in keeping with the new neoliberal discourse which now emphasises the notion of resilience within the conceptual framework of the “risk society”. Intra-European mobility has therefore been held out as a “solution”, both for young people and the governments of the Southern European countries that have been most penalised by austerity policies and for the host countries that are concerned about aging in their populations. Nevertheless, this focus does not vary from the guidelines of migration policy stipulated in the Schengen Agreement, in which the chief objectives were listed as incentivising intra-European mobility, encouraging the migration of well-qualified people as well as regulating extra-European migration with policies of recruitment in the countries of origin and offering only temporary or circular contracts. Whatever the case, the immediate political agenda shows quite a different reality: migration comes under the heading of Security, whether it is a question of economic migrants, refugees from the different conflicts following the impossible Arab Spring, or minorities forced into a nomadic existence, shunted from one European country to another.

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Presented in Session 36: Linking policy and demographic trends: European and international perspectives