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Migration Policy Institute Europe Releases First in Series of Reports that Examine European Identity, Immigration & Social Cohesion

Press Release
Monday, February 27, 2012

Migration Policy Institute Europe Releases First in Series of Reports that Examine European Identity, Immigration & Social Cohesion

BRUSSELS — Globalization and greater human mobility have created opportunities for some, but challenges for others. And economic insecurity has placed new strains on communities across Europe, especially those unaccustomed to accommodating immigrants and minorities. Amid this rapid change and as people have tightened their grip on the things they hold most dear—identity, language, culture and values among them—tensions over national concepts of identity and social cohesion have risen to the fore.

These topics, as well as the perceived and possibly real failures of multiculturalism, are explored in a trio of papers released today by the newly launched Migration Policy Institute Europe, a non-profit, independent research institute in Brussels that promotes a better understanding of migration in Europe in furtherance of effective policymaking. The reports informed the work of the Transatlantic Council on Migration, a unique deliberative and advisory body convened by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) that aims to have a tangible, measurable impact on migration and immigrant integration policy on both sides of the Atlantic.

The three reports released today and a Council Statement that summarizes the Transatlantic Council findings address the current political and public debates over national identity and social cohesion, offering recommendations to build a sound policy framework that benefits both new and native European populations.

In Multiculturalism: Success, Failure, and the Future, political philosopher Will Kymlicka proposes that the chorus from European political leaders declaring multiculturalism a failure may have come too soon. Kymlicka challenges what he calls the “central myths” about multiculturalist policies and offers substantial evidence of their successes.

In The Centrality of Employment in Immigrant Integration in Europe, political scientist Randall Hansen argues that any failure of immigration and immigrant integration in Europe is rooted in employment and income, not culture. Challenging both those who view multiculturalism as having gone too far as well as those who believe political elites have not done enough to respect diversity, Hansen faults European immigration policies for their inability to ensure that immigrants acquire and retain work.

The final report, The Role of the State in Cultural Integration: Trends, Challenges, and Ways Ahead, by sociologist Christian Joppke, examines the delicate balance states face in promoting policies that are aggressive enough to further social cohesion yet restrained enough to respect immigrants’ moral autonomy. The report wades into the discussion over Islam, proposing some guiding principles that states should embrace to further civic integration.

MPI is also releasing its Transatlantic Council Statement on the topic of the Council’s last meeting, which took place in the German Bundestag in November 2011. Rethinking National Identity in the Age of Migration, by MPI and MPI Europe President Demetrios Papademetriou, examines the roots of society’s anxiety over immigration and outlines 10 steps for fostering greater cohesiveness.

“Governments must show publics that they are taking an active role in mitigating the challenges wrought by rapid change and are listening carefully to those of their electorates’ concerns that are legitimate,” Papademetriou said. “While some apprehensions about migration, particularly those concerning jobs and loss of national identity, may be overstated, policymakers will only fuel and even entrench these anxieties by dismissing them.”

The Council Statement and the three papers are available for download at: www.MPIEurope.org.

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MPI Europe provides authoritative research and practical policy design to governmental and non-governmental stakeholders who seek more effective management of immigration, immigrant integration, and asylum systems as well as successful outcomes for newcomers, families of immigrant background and receiving communities throughout Europe. Building upon the experience and resources of the Migration Policy Institute, which operates internationally, MPI Europe also provides a forum for the exchange of information on migration and immigrant integration practices within the European Union and Europe more generally. For more on MPI Europe, visit www.MPIEurope.org.

MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration has long been active in the European arena, advising a number of EU presidencies on migration and immigrant integration policy and offering evidence-based policy advice to individual European governments. More on the Transatlantic Council, its membership and research can be found at www.migrationpolicy.org/transatlantic.