News > Seminar on Migrants and their Communities as Actors in the EMP
Seminar on Migrants and their Communities as Actors in the EMP
On 25 April 2006, EuroMeSCo, in the context of the preparation of its Annual Conference, organized a seminar entitled "Migrants and their communities as actors of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership" at the CERI in Paris. The seminar was attended by around 30 participants from academia, politics and civil society from Europe and the Southern Mediterranean partner countries.
The first debate on the issue of “The influence of migrant communities on political reforms in the Euro-Mediterranean area” was introduced by Alima Boumediène-Thiery (Senate of France, Paris) who stressed the need for a common vision on migration. In her presentation, Boumediène-Thiery argued that the issue of migration must be seen in a mutual way, i.e. from the perspective of the sending and host country respectively and that both can benefit from it. This is particularly true, she claimed, with respect to socio-economic development, and the high amount of remittances regularly transferred by migrants to their country of origin prove this visibly. With this in view, she raised the question how the EU and its member-states can improve the resources and the status of migrants in order to make them full-fledged actors of societal development in their host countries and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
The subsequent debate paved the way for the second session on “The role of migrant communities in the processes of national and European political decision-making” which was introduced by Christophe Bertossi (IFRI, Paris) and Emmanuelle Le Texier (Charles de Gaulle University, Lille III). In his presentation, Bertossi touched upon the issue of citizenship, nationality and political participation and pointed to the different categories of migrants living within the borders of the EU. While he identified an enormous lack of migrants’ political participation, not least due to the absence of a standardised and common EU-wide transnational system of voting rights, Le Texier enlarged the debate by focusing on migrants’ rights in North America. By way of comparing the two cases, Le Texier argued that the EU and the US are confronted with similar problems as regards their southern neighbourhoods. Yet, in contrast to the EU and the southern Mediterranean partner countries, both the US and Latin American sending countries, such as for example Mexico, have adopted specific policies and operate with different strategies in response to the phenomenon of migration and the corresponding challenges.
In response to these presentations, Kamel Qureshi (Danish Parliament, Copenhagen), added a more policy-oriented perspective and informed the audience of the situation of migrants in Denmark. He argued that the treatment of the latter contrasts sharply with the positive image Denmark has abroad, and the deterioration of migrants’ rights is to a large extent the result of an increasing islamophobia, partly spurred by the Danish People’s Party and the adoption of restrictive laws.
In the subsequent panel Michel Péraldi (Centre Jacques Berque, Rabat) and Sami Zemni (University of Ghent) focused their presentations on “The role of transnational networks in the Euro-Mediterranean space”. Departing from a sociological standpoint, Peraldi pointed to the fact that the phenomenon of migration is no longer what it used to be in the 1950s simply because a large number of migrants have become merchants operating on major market places such as Istanbul, Marseille and Dubai thus utilising the viscosity of trans-border passages. In contrast, Zemni questioned the innovative character of the underlying terminology and emphasised the fact that the main characteristics of today’s non-institutionalised networks of migrants is de-territorialisation.
The seminar concluded with numerous recommendations, such as, for example, the fact that the issue should be linked to the overall debate on the construction of Europe, and a plea for the abolition of existing political and societal vacuums migrants too often face in EU member states.