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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 22 May 2013

Making migration a driver for development

The European Commission is presenting its views on how migration and mobility can contribute to inclusive and economic social development and how to strengthen global cooperation in this area.

The Commission Communication “Maximising the Development Impact of Migration” will provide the basis for a common position of the EU and its Member States at the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, organised by the United Nations General Assembly on 3-4 October 2013. This event will provide a unique opportunity for policy makers and practitioners to reflect on how to work towards a global agenda for effective, inclusive and rights-based migration governance and identify measures to promote the role of migrants as agents of innovation and development.

"Migration and mobility are key drivers of sustainable development, but global cooperation must shift into a higher gear. The UN High-level Dialogue in October will provide a unique opportunity to bring forward the global agenda on migration and development, and promote concrete measures which make a meaningful contribution to the lives of migrants," said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström"

Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development, underlined that "migration should be recognised as a driver of inclusive economic, social and environmental development and, as such, included as a priority in the post-2015 development agenda ".

To promote migration and mobility as a driver for development of both low and middle-income countries of origin and destination, the Commission calls on all relevant actors to capitalise on opportunities and to tackle the challenges associated with international migration, inter alia:

  1. Ensure that development strategies recognise migration and mobility as 'enabling factors' for development.

  2. Respect the dignity and uphold the fundamental and human rights of migrants, regardless of the migrants’ legal status.

  3. Give more consideration to the interlinkages between climate change, environmental degradation and migration

  4. Recognise the challenges that increasing urbanisation and migration bring for cities and urban regions;

  5. Strengthen migration governance through bilateral and regional cooperation, including by engaging with civil society.

  6. Foster international and regional labour mobility.

In addition, the Communication also proposes how the EU could adopt a more ambitious approach to migration and development in its own policies and practices, in particular through the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility and the EU development policy, the Agenda for Change. In order to address more comprehensively the role migration and mobility play in sustainable development, a number of new priorities are identified, including promoting the governance and development impacts of migration between developing countries, and integrating migration into the development agenda. The Commission also commits to step up support for migration and development initiatives, including by assisting EU partner countries to promote migration governance.


The total number of international migrants rose from 150 million in 2000 to 214 million in 20101. Over half of these migrants reside in low- and middle income countries, and many developing countries are simultaneously countries of origin and destination of migrants. This increasing regional and global mobility creates opportunities; contributing for instance to poverty reduction and innovation. But it also requires effective governance in order to address challenges such as ‘brain drain’ (outward migration of educated people), migrant exploitation and the effects of migration on urbanisation.

With its Global Approach to Migration and Mobility the EU has developed a balanced and comprehensive external migration policy which includes migration and development as one of its four operational priority areas. Migration is also a specific priority in the EU Agenda for Change, the Commission’s development policy blueprint to refocus its work to focus on those countries and sectors which most need support.

The EU is the world's leading donor of development assistance and will continue to provide substantial support in the years to come. Migration is a priority topic under the EU's development cooperation. Between 2004 and 2012, the Commission has committed almost €1 billion to more than 400 migration-related projects.

The UN High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development will take place on 3-4 October 2013 - Commissioner Malmström will be representing the EU.

The High-level Dialogue aims to identify concrete measures to strengthen coherence and cooperation at all levels, with a view to enhancing the benefits of international migration for migrants and countries alike and its links to development. It takes place in the context of preparations of the post-2015 UN development agenda.

Discussions at the High-level Dialogue will focus on:

  1. Assessing the effects of international migration on sustainable development and identifying relevant priorities in view of the preparation of the post-2015 development framework;

  2. Measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of all migrants, with particular reference to women and children as well as to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons and to ensure orderly, regular and safe migration;

  3. Strengthening partnerships and cooperation on international migration, mechanisms to effectively integration migration into development policies and promoting coherence at all levels; and

  4. International and regional labour mobility and its impact on development.

Useful Links

Cecilia Malmström's website

Follow Commissioner Malmström on Twitter

DG Home Affairs website

Follow DG Home Affairs on Twitter

Press material on the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility - IP/11/1369 and MEMO/11/800

Press material on the Agenda for Change on Increasing the Impact of EU Development Policy - IP/11/1184 and MEMO/11/696

Andris Piebalgs' website

DG Development and Cooperation's website

Contacts :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)

Maria Sanchez Aponte (+32 2 298 10 35)

1 :

IOM. 2010. World Migration Report 2010 - The Future of Migration: Building Capacities for Change.

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