The estimated number of migrants around the world is 230 million, that is about 3% of the global population. Even if this share has not changed much in the past 100 years, the number of migrants has increased mainly for two reasons: the world’s population has quadrupled and, since the early 1900s, the number of countries has increased from 50 to over 200 – then, the number of borders increased.
Such an unprecedented crisis has led to severe difficulties in many EU Member States and has revealed serious deficiencies in ensuring the efficient external border and in the reception and processing of arriving migrants.
Populist and nationalist parties fuel people’s fears about the impact of migrants on jobs and economies. However, numbers show that such an impact can be very positive. In the United States, for example, skilled immigrants account for over half of Silicon Valley start-ups and over half of patents, even though they make up less than 15% of the population.
If integration into labour markets and local communities works, migration can be a great opportunity. Therefore, integration policies – such as language training, professional education and initiatives to adapt skills to business demands – are key to promote a virtuous circle: more migrants finding jobs would mean less public expenditure and more people paying taxes and social security contributions.
As it was the case for the sovereign debt crisis and the European Monetary Union, what we are facing today with the migrant and refugees crisis is the consequence of the failure to complete the European construction: shared internal borders make no sense without shared external borders. Migration issues and, more in general, border issues have to be considered as European – and not national – issues. It is time to release the brake of national sovereignty.