Narrative Publications

Stefano Volpicelli, Who’s Afraid of … Migration? A New European Narrative of Migration

Who’s Afraid of … Migration? A New European Narrative of Migration


Human mobility has changed profoundly since the onset of globalisation, with old patterns of south-north movement of male economic migrants being replaced by mixed flows of people moving because of a variety of needs and motivations. In Europe these changes have gone largely unnoticed and the discourse on migration has been conducted in a confused and contradictory way. Policies have swung between two poles: on one end the view of migrants as a problem rather than as an opportunity; on the other, the view of migrants as vulnerable people escaping poverty or persecution. Through the analysis of policies, juridical terminology, concepts and stereotypes, this paper proposes a three-step approach for a different narrative of migration to curb the political manipulation that, labelling migrants as a threat, is dangerously fuelling racism and discrimination towards “aliens”.

Who’s Afraid of … Migration? A New European Narrative of Migration
Francesca Pierigh for the CCME and WACC Europe, Changing the Narrative: Media Representation of Refugees and Migrants in Europe

Changing the Narrative: Media Representation of Refugees and Migrants in Europe

Executive summary

Globally, we are facing unprecedented levels of displacement. According to UNHCR, currently over 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. In Europe, while the number of arrivals in 2017 have dropped from its peak of more than 1 million in 2015, the welcome and integration of refugees and migrants remains a highly divisive political, economic, and cultural topic. Refugees Reporting is a research and advocacy project conducted in 2017 to support the communication rights of refugees seeking safe passage into and through Europe and to challenge public attitudes of intolerance and discrimination against them. The project coordinators – the World Association for Christian Communication - Europe Region (WACC Europe) and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) – believe that the representation of refugees and migrants in the media plays a major role in the tone of the public debate and, ultimately, the welcome and integration of refugees and migrants in their  new countries. Research was thus conducted to assess the media representation of refugees and migrants in Europe. Participating countries were Greece, Italy, Spain, Serbia, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway. In addition, interviews were conducted with representatives of refugee networks and media, including a consultation bringing people from both groups together to review the initial research findings. The media monitoring results reflect general patterns rather than a regionally representative picture, given that, in this initial study, the overall sample is relatively small and there are wide differences across individual country results. The aim of this report is to spark discussion on the topics considered, build on positive trends, and inspire more research and action on the issues.


Changing the Narrative: Media Representation of Refugees and Migrants in Europe
Vedran Horvat, Institute for Political Ecology, for the Green European Foundation, “NEXT TO US’’: A New Narrative on Migration in Europe

“NEXT TO US’’: A New Narrative on Migration in Europe

About this report

In 2016, the Green European Foundation (GEF), together with Fundació Nous Horitzons (Catalonia), Green Institute Greece, Fundación EQUO (Spain), Green Economics Institute (UK) and Institute for Political Ecology (Croatia) developed a transnational project to highlight the status quo of migration policies at local level, while considering the national and European dimensions.
The project consisted of a set of events, organised by the above-mentioned institutions, aimed at identifying the main challenges in ensuring the wellbeing of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe.  This report, which included the participation of the author in the 6 events organised in 5 countries between May and September 2016 in Spain (Barcelona and Madrid), Germany (Berlin and Munich), United Kingdom (Oxford) and Greece (Athens), was developed as part of this project with a twofold objective:
Firstly, it summarises the main findings from debates held within the GEF transnational migration project involving a wide range of actors, from policy-makers, civil society and refugees themselves.
Secondly, it provides an analytical view of the divergent trajectories of the debate to identify a solid common ground and to build a narrative that would precede new policy proposals offered by the Green political family.

“NEXT TO US’’: A New Narrative on Migration in Europe
Emanuela Roman, Ferruccio Pastore, Irene Ponzo, Noureddine Harrami and Marouan Lahmidani, Investigating Cognitive and Normative Frames of Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Stakeholders on Migration and Mobility Issues, in Their Relations with the EU

Investigating Cognitive and Normative Frames of Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Stakeholders on Migration and Mobility Issues, in Their Relations with the EU


This paper outlines the conceptual and methodological guidelines for research in MEDRESET Work Package 7 (WP7). WP7 aims to develop a more sophisticated knowledge and awareness about the diverse frames, perceptions and priorities of a variety of stakeholders with regard to migration and mobility issues in the Mediterranean space, focusing on local stakeholders in four southern and eastern Mediterranean countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia) – and among them on those actors who are generally excluded from Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and decision-making (e.g., civil society and grassroots organizations). Following an introduction on the dominant EU-driven frames on migration and mobility issues and the related policy agenda, the second section of this paper reviews the existing academic and expert literature produced on the two shores of the Mediterranean, highlighting dominant patterns and common trends. Drawing upon Boswell et al. (2011), the fourth section of this paper provides the conceptual framework for the WP7 analysis of policy frames and framing processes in the area of migration and mobility, while the fifth section outlines the methodology adopted in WP7 research. The final section classifies the literature on migration and mobility produced on the two shores of the Mediterranean.

Investigating Cognitive and Normative Frames of Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Stakeholders on Migration and Mobility Iss...
Emanuela Roman, Beyond Unilateral Securitization: What Civil Society Actors Want from Migration, Asylum and Mobility Policies in the Mediterranean

Beyond Unilateral Securitization: What Civil Society Actors Want from Migration, Asylum and Mobility Policies in the Mediterranean


This paper analyses how stakeholders in southern and eastern Mediterranean countries evaluate the EU’s role, approach and policies in the field of migration, mobility and asylum, focusing on the policy instruments it has adopted, the actors involved (or not involved) in policymaking, and the substance of implemented policies. Based on extensive in-depth interviews conducted with a wide range of stakeholders – including in particular different types of civil society actors – in Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Europe, the analysis shows that
the EU’s discourse is informed by two dominant frames – unilateralism and securitization – which translate into Eurocentric, securitizing and conditionality-based policies. The analysis demonstrates also that female migration is underrepresented and misrepresented in both EU and SEM discourses, which translates into the lack of an overall strategy to mainstream gender in migration policy-making. Based on this assessment, the paper presents a series of policy recommendations that have emerged directly from interviewed stakeholders in SEM countries. The fact that these recommendations are grounded on solid and credible empirical bases makes them particularly relevant and authoritative vis-à-vis European interlocutors.

Beyond Unilateral Securitization: What Civil Society Actors Want from Migration, Asylum and Mobility Policies in the Mediterrane
Teresa Fiore & Ernest Ialongo, Introduction: Italy and the Euro–Mediterranean ‘migrant crisis’: national reception, lived experiences, E.U. pressures

Introduction: Italy and the Euro–Mediterranean ‘migrant crisis’: national reception, lived experiences, E.U. pressures


The introduction discusses the origins of this themed section of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies, based on a 2017 interdisciplinary conference about migration and the migrant experience in Italy. The co-editors recognized early on that the U.S. media was paying inadequate attention to migrant landings in Italy during the so called refugee crisis around 2015–16, and engaged scholars active in Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. to provide further nuance to this particular migratory flow, and in particular to question how the term ‘crisis’ was used in describing it. In response to a public debate increasingly prone to alarmism, the articles produced after the conference investigate the contradictions of the Italian reception system of migrants and refugees; the often glossed-over labour, race, and gender aspects of the flows; and the critical conditions of the Mediterranean crossing as represented in film and theatre. The contributions specifically bring forward the migrants’ voices to challenge the exclusionary practices adopted in Italy and Europe in favour of structured legal channels, and to reveal the growing crisis of E.U. democratic principles.

Introduction: Italy and the Euro–Mediterranean ‘migrant crisis’: national reception, lived experiences, E.U. pressures

Integration of Migrants in Middle Sized Cities and Rural Areas in Europe

Executive Summary

Medium and small cities and rural areas in Europe have increasingly found themselves addressing the needs of migrants and refugees and developing and implementing integration programmes for their newly arrived residents. This report explores the context in which, and the structures through which, these measures are implemented and the nature of the actions being undertaken. It also makes a number of overarching observations about these measures. Most research has tended to focus on large cities (and to a lesser degree on rural areas), often ignoring the experiences of small and medium sized cities. Similarly, networks and projects tended to involve large cities, although a number of recent networks and projects have started to re-shape this reality.

This research shows a relatively positive attitude by many of the cities examined to actively engage with migration generally and integration in particular. Migration is seen as a way to address some of the existing demographic and other challenges of the city and integration provides a way towards ensuring that migrants and refugees are actively contributing to their new homes.

The key findings of this research include:
● Migrants offer significant benefits to medium and small cities including by assisting in addressing depopulation and ensuring the viability of basic services as well as greater diversity and public relations opportunities.
● Cities, including medium and small cities have often been left to deal with issues that the national level has failed to address.
● Migrants also benefit from being in medium and small cities including by having access to closer networks and by benefiting from greater interaction with locals. While in some cases, this has turned into a negative, for the most part, it has had a positive impact on the migrants and their integration prospects.
 ●The short duration of stay by many migrants in medium and small cities is a concern regarding their integration. Many migrants seek to move to larger cities with greater employment opportunities. The desire to move away often hinders the efficacy of integration programmes.
● Medium and small cities are more adaptable to changing realities and provide opportunities to test new policy and programming approaches. This is supported by the reduction in institutional structures as well as the possibility to implement projects at a lower cost.
● Great diversity exists in the types of integration activities undertaken by medium and small cities. Many have focused on soft integration measures whilst promotion of language acquisition, cultural competencies and employability skills are also common activities.
● Financial support for integration measures is often difficult to secure and is limited. European Union funding in particular is often difficult to access for small and medium sized cities who do not have dedicated resources to submit applications and prepare reports. Reliance on volunteers negatively impacts the sustainability of activities although it does contribute to making integration a shared endeavour.
● Capacity, including in terms of financial and human resources, is often stretched very thin in medium and small cities especially as these are often left to deal with issues that the national level has been unable to address. Both formal and informal partnerships with civil society organisations have been critical in addressing the limited capacity of government.
● There are opportunities for integration in a number of geographically close towns and villages working together to share resources and service provision. Such interaction between local authorities is an element of success in integration provision.
● Whilst the proliferation of networks at the European level often renders it difficult for medium and small cities to engage actively (given limited time and resources), they have found their own solutions including through informal channels for sharing information and regional level networks.
● Greater coordination is needed between different services at the municipal level (often assisted by the personal connection between various actors in medium and small cities) as well as between different levels of government.
● Monitoring and evaluation, as well as sustainability of projects, remains limited. These are areas where further action is to be encouraged.
● Municipalities have different powers, competences and resources in different countries. There is a distinction, in various countries, between medium and small cities and their ability and willingness to engage with integration issues.

Recommendations for the European Committee of the Regions:
● Conduct an EU Wide Needs assessment, addressing the needs of medium, small and rural areas in the integration of migrants.
● Provide tailored capacity building support (in the form of training and financial assistance) to networks of small cities that have started to emerge in the field of migrant integration to further support their growth and their multiplier potential.
● Ensure, through the CoR Initiatives that the outcomes of small networks across Europe can be broadcast across the European Union for lessons to be learnt.
● Expand the programme of sharing good practices including by ensuring that the CoR provides the space – online and offline – for the sharing of good practices in a manner that is usable and accessible.
● Continue to advocate, on behalf of municipalities, for EU finding to be made more practically accessible.
● Consider addressing the needs of medium and small cities as well as rural areas separately from each other. The distinctive realities of each must not be underestimated.
● There is a clear need to further monitor integration in medium and small cities through the collection, analysis and dissemination of more segregated data that would also allow LRAs, NGOs, researchers and others to examine the integration outcomes at the local level. The Committee of the Regions and the Cities and Region for Integration initiative should help develop migration and integration indicators for the local level, and guidance for States and others on how best to implement these.

Integration of Migrants in Middle Sized Cities and Rural Areas in Europe.pdf

Another nexus ? Exploring narratives on the linkage between EU external migration policies and the democratization of the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood


Since the beginning of the twenty-first century and after two turning point events – 09-11 terrorist attacks and the ‘Arab spring’ – both migration control and democracy promotion became central issues within EU foreign policy, in particular to what concern its relations with the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood. However, although many authors allude to the relation between these two policy dimensions, little is known about their linkage. On the one hand, the debate about EU external migration policies narratives has revolved mainly around the migration-security and migration-development nexus. On the other, whereas the developmental paradigm has dominated the root-causes approach little attention has been given to its political dimension. This article aims to overcome these limitations through exploring these other nexus: the one between these policies and the democratization of southern Mediterranean countries. To investigate this nexus I follow a Narrative Policy Analysis approach - the most suitable for investigating issues of high complexity, uncertainty and polarization, which seems to be precisely the case of EU external migration policies. Hence, drawing on longitudinal and interpretative content analysis of EU official documents covering the period between 1995 and 2018, this study seeks to expose the main narratives casted by the EU on the issue and to identify if there has been consistence or change in the stories and arguments over time and in particular, before and after the ‘Arab spring’. Ultimately, the goal was to confirm the presence of this nexus by exposing its complexity and trying to understand its configuration. This is considered as an important step towards further disentangling the logics and impacts of the externalization of EU migration policies towards its Southern Mediterranean neighbourhood.

Another nexus - Exploring narratives on the linkage between EU external migration policies and the democratization of the southern Mediterranean neighbourhood.pdf

Who is reshaping public opinion on the EU's migration policies? (July 2019)


Since Europe experienced its 2015/6 large-scale arrivals, immigration has never been so high on the political agenda of the European Union and several of its Member States. News of these arrivals spread through Europe’s fragmented media and political landscape. This discussion brief aims to capture the changes and drivers of public opinion on EU migration policy since 2015/6. To what extent have the media, fake news, national politicians, EU officials and migrants themselves reshaped public opinion? What are the differences across Europe and the implications for EU policymaking?

The desk research for this discussion brief took advantage of the explosion in public opinion research in recent years. The wide geographical coverage of these studies fill the major gap in research on media and public opinion on immigrants in Central Europe. Changes and drivers of EU public opinion have been identified through multivariate analysis of the European Social Survey and Eurobarometer as well as recent literature reviews, for example thanks to the Observatory of Public Attitudes to Migration. The increase in innovative survey experiments and panels allows researchers to better understand public decision-making and the effects of (dis)information. Several EU-wide reviews have been commissioned of the recent migration media coverage, while investigations by practitioners have revealed the importance of media ownership and social media campaigns.

The Discussion Brief begins with a review of the EU agenda and state-of-knowledge on the recent changes on public opinion on EU migration policy. The main section then investigates the relative importance and dynamics of the key drivers of public opinion: values and socialisation, political preferences, personal experiences, media framing and salience, the dynamics on social media, the key decision-makers behind media content and the key actors in the debate. The Brief concludes with the implications of these recent changes in public opinion for Europe’s societies and role in the world.

Who is reshaping public opinion on the EU's migration policies.pdf

Rethinking EU migration and asylum policies: Managing immigration jointly with countries of origin and transit (2019)

Executive Summary

The new European Commission will inherit an impasse in efforts to reform the European asylum system as well as concerns about practices in the management of the EU’s external border that contradict humanitarian standards and may even be illegal. While the number of asylum seekers who manage to reach EU territory is now lower than in previous years, it may be low precisely because of those problematic practices, including abuse of irregular migrants along the Western Balkan route, limited search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean, and EU cooperation with the Libyan coast guard even though migrants returned by it to Libya have been abused. In this 2019 MEDAM Assessment Report, we present insights from MEDAM research and policy dialogue since 2016 to explain how closer cooperation among EU member states and with countries of origin and transit can improve outcomes for all stakeholders. Crucially, short of establishing a new Iron Curtain on the EU’s external border or continuing to tolerate abuses, there is no way that either individual member states or the EU as a whole can insulate themselves from irregular migrants and asylum seekers. Yet, if crossing the EU border enabled all irregular migrants to remain in the EU for good, the integrity of EU visa and asylum policies would be undermined. Thus, close cooperation with countries of origin for the return and readmission of their citizens who have no right to remain in the EU is crucial. Still, it is typically not in the interest of countries of origin to limit the mobility of their citizens. Cooperation between the EU and countries of origin must therefore cover a wide enough range of policies to ensure that all parties consistently benefit from the policy package and have a strong incentive to meet their commitments. We emphasize more EU support for refugees hosted by low- and middle-income countries and more legal employment opportunities for non-EU citizens in the EU. Rethinking EU asylum and migration policies along these lines requires extensive consultations and negotiations among stakeholders in Europe and in countries of origin and transit. Our ‘insights’ are meant to inform and stimulate such conversations. However, sustainable reforms will come only as the result of stakeholders working out the details and developing a sense of ownership of the necessary reforms. Our first set of insights relates to popular attitudes toward immigration and the structure of public preferences for asylum and refugee protection policies (section 2 of this report). Next, we explain how the EU and countries of origin and transit can all benefit from cooperating on border management, refugee protection, and expanding legal labor migration to the EU (section 3). Finally, we consider the implications for cooperation among EU member states and the long-standing plans for reform of the European asylum system (section 4).


Rethinking EU migration and asylum policies, Managing immigration jointly with countries of origin and transit.pdf