Dialogue process suggested for harmonization of migrants in EU

General Karachi

Karachi: Islam is the 2nd largest religion in France and France has the largest Muslim community in Europe ahead of Germany and Britain. The migrants are living in Europe from generations and there is need to find a modus vivendi among migrants and host societies.

These views were expressed by scholars at a workshop entitled Inter and Intra Migration in Europe: Problems and Difficulties held by the Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi, in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

The workshop is chaired by Najmuddin Shaikh, Former Foreign Secretary.

Dr. Uzma Shujaat, Incharge, Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi in her introductory remarks highlighted that migration has become an increasingly important phenomenon for European societies. Patterns of migration flows can change greatly over time, with the size and composition of migrant populations reflecting both current and historical patterns of migration flows, combined with the complexity and long term nature of the migrant integration process.

The Stockholm programme, adopted by the EU member state governments at the December 2009 European Council, sets a framework and a series of principles for the ongoing development of European policies on justice and home affairs for the period 20102014. Migration related issues are a central part of this programme. The Stockholm programme represents a continuation of the efforts that have been made since the Amsterdam Treaty in 1999; European policies on migration and asylum have evolved through the implementation of the Tampere programme 19992004 and The Hague programme 200409.

Immigration is as old as mankind, people migrated from one place to another because human beings has urge to improve their livelihoods, thus people moved to peaceful and prosperous states, said Lieutenant General R Talat Masood.

He added that, for centuries Europe was an emigrant continent and the countries like US and Canada received a large number of European immigrants. But the situation changed after the Second World War and Europe received immigrants and the estimated showed that on average every tenth citizen in many western European countries was born outside. However, the rise in scale of global migration has become a security dilemma, he opined.

He added that immigration has lead to ethnic and religious divisions and factionalization and that has led to social strife and at times violent conflict.

Talat Masood said the receiving countries; particularly Western Europe put restrictions on immigrations after the incident of 9/11 and consider it as a threat and reacting on it by militarizing it.

The host countries take greater security measures and thus increase their defence budgets and for this they are diverting their welfare resources to defence that created hatred against immigrants, he added.

He said that immigrants should assimilate and integrate to a certain extent in the host societies and for this they must be flexible and adjustable; otherwise, they should stay in their own homeland. On the other hand immigrants also sacrifice so many things and they contributed in the well being of their host economies, he emphasized.

The Consul General of France, Christian Ramage spoke on ‘Religions in the Secular Republic of France’. He said French Revolution is a source of assimilation for France in particular and for Europe in general.

Christian Ramage discussed the three principles of French Revolution: Liberty, equality and fraternity. He explained liberty as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of thoughts, ideas, assembly, religion and respect for all these freedoms.

For equality, he explained equality between men and women, between all citizens whatever their ethnic origin, and for fraternity he said it means solidarity, e.g., the rich pay for the poor, free education for all, free health and welfare system.

Secularism is another heritage of the French Revolution which separated the state and religion and the church must not intervene and interfere in public life.

Ramage said that Islam is the 2nd largest religion in France. He further added schools are neutral places in France and no one is allowed to show any sign of religious belief in schools.

On the issue of Hijab, Ramage emphasized that full face Islamic veil is banned in public spaces but not other types of Hijab.

Prof. Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema presented a paper on Socioeconomic Problems of Illegal Migrants: EU Policy Responses. He put light on the problems faced by illegal migrants in Europe.

He said that “Europe has become an attractive place for migration of people from less developed countries. The lack of manpower in EU countries paved the way for foreign workers especially from the ex-colonies of different EU countries, he added.

He mentioned that non colonial EU states like Sweden signed “Guest Worker” agreements with developing countries in order to fulfil the domestic requirement of skilled labour.

He described 4 types of migrants, who migrate to EU for better future. Businessmen, tourists, refugees etc belong to the first category, which followed by illegal migrants, human trafficking and cross border criminal elements respectively. They are mostly facilitated by 3 major factors, he added. The first and the most reliable source of encouragement for illegal migrants are the local employers, who exploits the illegal work force and in return they provide them protection from the state authorities.

Dr. Cheema highlighted the role of already existing migrant community in providing foothold for the illegal migrants and the third factor is the network of travel agents who are involved in human smuggling across the continents, he added.

In last part of his presentation Dr. Cheema highlighted the response of EU in catering the issue of illegal migration. He mentioned that the EU’s main strategy is to prevent illegal migration by securing borders, followed by deporting the existing illegal migrants. In this regard EU has established Biometric facilities at all entry and exit points of EU member states, he added.

The last paper was presented by Ambassador R Shahid Ameen, who spoke on “EU’s Global Approach to Migration: Towards an EU Immigration Policy with Particular Reference to Muslim Immigrants”.

Amin said that EU has always been a continent of immigration and not only because people from developing world are willing to migrate to these countries but also the EU itself encouraged the influx of foreign workers during the time of economic recovery and growth specially after the second world war. He used an interesting term 3D jobs dirty, dangerous and dull that are mostly available for migrants.

He mentioned that in the era of economic boom the EU states from 1958 to 1972 introduced the phenomenon of guest workers to cater the domestic need of labour.

He further presented the figures of migrants in EU which is approximately 32 million out of which 12 million are from Europe. EU is currently absorbing 2 million migrants each year, he added.

He further mentioned that in the times of economic downfall the issue of migration has become controversial.

The right wing parties in EU member states are getting popular on anti migrants agenda, which is evident by the increasing racist incidents in all over EU.

Amin also highlighted the hate acts against Muslims in EU. He mentioned the example of the killing of 82 people in Norway, which is being done just to highlight the Islamization of Europe, he added.

Lastly he suggested that there should be more dialogue between the migrant communities and the native people to increase harmony and the concept of peaceful coexistence.

The session was concluded by the former Foreign Secretary Najmuddin A. Sheikh.

He presented his views by mentioning that in current era of economic decline the conditions for non EU migrants are getting worse. He said that the right wing parties are now demanding that the low level jobs should not be given to foreign workers. He mentioned that the rate of migration will go down in near future. He further said that people in EU as well as in US are now willing to go back to their homeland if they are provided good condition.

The program ended with question answer session.