Opportunity or Threat for the EU? Debating migration at the Economic Forum in Krynica

The migration crisis is one of many challenges Europe needs to face considering the interests and experience of EU member states and the continent as a whole. Mass migration is a part of European and global history. However, the current wave of refugees, in particular from the Middle East and Africa, shows extreme differences between European countries in the perception and willingness to accept migrants. Currently, the problem of finding a common European identity is closely linked to anxiety and fear of otherness that has been appearing in radical reactions to the refugee crisis in some European countries.

Above mentioned issues will be discussed in Krynica, and were also on focus during a debate on migration at the 2nd European Congress of Local Governments, one of the accompanying events of the Economic Forum. Irena Krasnicka, Special Envoy on Migration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic, stressed speaking on migration during the Congress “Europe is deeply divided, and therefore it would be good to promote local authorities cooperation”. The main challenge and chance for Europe is “to integrate the refugees so that they can become integral part of the European societies. It is therefore necessary to invest in their education, provide language courses and vocational training”, underlined Thomas Kralinski, Secretary of State/Commissioner to the German Federation for International Relations and the Media, Government of the Land Brandenburg, Germany. The integration of refugees is “a problem we will have to deal with in the long term”, said Jan Schneider, Head of Research, The Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR). According to him “the first step is to ensure living conditions for the migrants. The other key issue is education.” Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, Member of the Polish Parliament, who participated also in the discussion, stressed that in recent years, Polish local governments have struggled with securing accommodation for migrants. “Municipalities pointed out first to the housing problems and then to the issues pertaining to work securing and education.” In his opinion, it is worthwhile to also bear in mind whether the refugees are planning to stay on in Poland, or whether they will be treated Poland as a temporary stop.

Issues related to migration raised at the 2nd European Congress of Local Governments will be followed up at the Economic Forum in Krynica. The debate entitled: Migration – Opportunity or Threat for the EU? promises to be interesting, as the impact of migration on the European labor market in times of demographic decline will be discussed as well.

Debates on the impact of migration on politics, economy and society in Europe enjoy popularity during Economic Forum’s meetings. At the 25th anniversary of the Economic Forum in Krynicy last year, it was discussed, how policy makers should react to ensure the safety of European citizens and not restrict the rights of free movement of persons. The problem of illegal immigration concerning also the eastern border of the EU, enjoyed success hold as one of 180 panel discussions at the 24th Economic Forum. Following speakers participated among others at the Forum’s debates related to migration: Bartosz Marczuk, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Poland; Suzanne McCarthy, Immigration Services Commissioner (2005-2015), Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, United Kingdom; Thorsten Klute, Secretary of State, Ministry of Employment, Integration and Social Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany; Irini Pari, President, Group for Immigration and Integration, European Economic and Social Committee, Greece and Emanuela Claudia Del Re, Chairwoman, EPOS – International Mediating and Negotiating Operational Agency, Italy.