News > EuroMeSCo 2007 Annual Conference 3rd Preparatory Meeting "The Role of Migrants in the Euro-Mediterranean Relations"
EuroMeSCo 2007 Annual Conference 3rd Preparatory Meeting "The Role of Migrants in the Euro-Mediterranean Relations"
The EuroMeSCo Secretariat, in collaboration with the CERI, held a seminar on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at the CERI in Paris on "The Role of Migrants in Euro-Mediterranean Relations”. This seminar acted as a preparatory meeting for the EuroMeSCo Annual Conference 2007, entitled "A Common Agenda against Intolerance: Human Rights as a Shared Concern", that took place on 3-4 October 2007 in Lisbon, during the Portuguese EU Presidency.

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The meeting brought together almost thirty researchers from the two shores of the Mediterranean, and the three themes discussed related to the deconstruction of the currently displayed security approach (1), development (2) and migrants’ rights (3).

The first session, entitled “Migrants are not a threat”, focused on the securitization of the migration phenomenon or, in other words, on European security policies and more particularly on current practices towards clandestine migration. The fight against clandestine migration has resulted in the militarization of the EU’s Mediterranean borders and thus a growing use of military forces and military technology (fixed-wing aircrafts, long-range patrol bombers and/or sophisticated radar systems), perceived to be more coercive and efficient than the “ordinary” police forces. These security measures are in fact disproportionate, especially in view of the fact that the rate of illegal migrants entering Europe is still below 10% of the total number of illegal migrants. The decreasing permeability of frontiers is enforced by the involvement of southern Mediterranean countries, and thus transit countries, and their restrictive practices of protecting their borders.

During the second session, entitled “Migrants: a non-capitalized potential”, participants insisted upon emphasizing the importance of considering migrants as development actors. In their view, migration is a development factor, both for the host country (the Spanish case is typical, considering the impact of migration on the employment growth throughout the last years) and for the country of origin (thanks to migrants’ remittances, as well as to real and/or potential practices in the field of co-development, such as, for example, in tourism projects). Some participants denounced the perversion of the co-development concept, which tends to be limited to the micro level, and called upon experts to broaden the definition of this concept.

The third session, entitled “Rights to turn migrants into actors of Euro-Mediterranean relationships”, stressed the need to create a new legal framework that would enable migrants to become actors, and even mediators, in the Euro-Mediterranean space. Participants urged to make way for residency citizenship (electoral and eligibility rights), so that migrants and the parts of the population that were born abroad could find suitable space of expression, associative participation, local, national and European representation for themselves, as well as the right to settle down in the European space. Mobility should bring about more rights and not their decrease.