THE FUTURE OF MIGRATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION: Future scenarios and tools to stimulate forward-looking discussions

Alice Szczepanikova and Tine Van Criekinge, EU policy lab, THE FUTURE OF MIGRATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION: Future scenarios and tools to stimulate forward-looking discussions

Executive Summary

This report is the outcome of a year-long interactive and participatory process led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) on the Future of Migration in the European Union (EU). The project responded to the growing demand from European Commission services for foresight and anticipatory knowledge around future migration patterns. Based on a set of four future migration scenarios, the project engaged several stakeholders in exploring and reflecting upon the needs of EU policymaking and EU responses around future migration challenges and opportunities.
Predicting future migration trends is difficult because forecasting models are unable to capture the plethora of social, political, demographic, economic, environmental and technological drivers that fundamentally underpin and shape migration processes. A foresight approach focuses on plausibility and offers visions and narratives as to what alternative futures could look like. It produces scenarios built around variables that are both relatively certain and uncertain and is most useful when applied to mid to longer-term futures. When used as a starting point for debate and engagement with diverse stakeholders, narrative scenarios enhance a systemic and nuanced understanding of a policy issue and can help stimulate cooperation among various actors. This is particularly important when tackling complex and politicised policy issues such as migration.
In this report, we briefly present four foresight scenarios for the future of migration in the EU, with 2030 as a future timeframe. The scenarios were used to explore policy implications of different political, economic and migration developments for specific thematic areas of EU policymaking: foreign and security policy, labour market and integration policies. We also explored how the scenarios could play out in different parts of the world, the result of which are brief scenario narratives for the EU, European neighbourhood, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia developed by invited experts.

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