Common home - Migration and development in Europe and beyond (November 2019)


Executive summary

Over the last few years, migration has deeply polarised public debate in Europe. While the record number of
migrant arrivals has considerably dropped since 2017, the ensuing political and social crisis in Europe remains today. It is in this climate, fraught with tensions and mistrust, that Caritas Europa launched a renewed reflection on the complex interconnections between migration and development, both in Europe and overseas, in order to promote a more balanced debate.

As described in Chapter 1, this publication is based on the findings, testimonies and good practices of 11 Common Home studies,1 covering Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany (Bavaria), Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden, and on the analysis of European and international statistical databases and the review of secondary literature. Caritas approaches migration and development from two angles. On the one hand, it analyses the extent to which migration itself does and may contribute to sustainable development in countries of origin and destination. On the other hand, it examines the extent to which European and Member State policies and practices, both internally and externally, contribute to the integral human development of people and the sustainable development of countries in Europe and beyond. A critical assessment of what has been done and what should be done in these domains in order to create structures and policies that foster integral human development and that support the development potential of migration are also presented in this publication.

As detailed in Chapter 1, Caritas uses a broad understanding of migration, inclusive of all those who are refugees and applicants for international protection as well as migrant workers and members of their families. As regards development, Caritas views it as the long-term process of building up community and household social and economic capacities in a sustainable manner, in order to eradicate poverty and vulnerability, and to promote social justice. Key to Caritas’ vision is the concept of integral human development, which places the human person at the centre of the development process. Integral human development is defined as an all-embracing approach that takes into consideration the well-being of the person and of all people in seven different dimensions: 1) social, 2) work, 3) ecological, 4) political, 5) economic, 6) cultural, and 7) spiritual.

In Caritas’ view, migration remains linked to poverty inasmuch as poverty is understood as not only economic poverty, but also encompasses exclusion or the lack of opportunities to participate in society or to access decent work, good governance, education and healthcare, freedom of expression and participation, or the ability to avoid the consequences of climate change. Caritas thus supports the view that there is no proven correlation between poverty eradication and reduction of migration, and further contends that although some of the drivers of migration need to be addressed to support the long-term development of the countries, poverty reduction is in itself not a migration-reducing strategy. For Caritas, the solution therefore is to facilitate integral human development. Both people who migrate and those who remain - whether in country of origin or in country of residence - have the right to find wherever they call home the economic, political, environmental and social conditions to live in dignity and to achieve a full life. Hence, rather than focus on stopping human mobility, governments should prioritise development policies that create environments, enabling people to achieve their full potential, their life project, their integral human development.