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After the Party is Over: The Policy Implications of Migration Surges

Ian Barnes, Joint paper with Cristina Cherino

The economic crisis which started 2008, generated the most severe recession amongst the developed economies since the 1930s. Large scale inward migration occurred in the good times, but it is difficult to switch the tap off now that mass unemployment has returned. With hindsight it might have been better to have resisted the temptation to go for maximising short term economic growth. However, national policies were not so much to welcome large scale migration but to just take a passive line and not try and deter it. The consequences were therefore largely unintended This paper examines the problems facing Spain where unemployment reached 19.4% in November 2009, but has at the same time the country had acquired in excess of 5 million international migrants in recent years. Many of the short-term problems associated with the high level of migration cannot easily be resolved by individual member states, in part because of their Treaty obligations. There is a need now to take a collective approach. The notion that individual states can determine their own levels of inward migration and their own conditions for citizenship does not fit well with the EU's provisions with respect to mobility of labour.

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