Migration Governance is key in India-EU Migration and cooperation: Expert Panel

Published Date:   Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017

On the event of India-EU Cooperation Dialogue on Migration and Mobility held on 26th September 2017, an expert panel were formed to deliberate on ‘opportunities and challenges for collaboration on migration and mobility’ The panel consisted of Mr. Manish Gupta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Mr. Rhys Cullen, International Relations Officer, Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME), EU Commission, Mr. Dipak Chatterjee, Former Ambassador to European Union at Brussels, Ms. Nila Kanthi Ford, Chair, Ireland-India Business Association, and Dr. Rupa Chanda, Professor of Economics, Indian Institute of Management. The moderator of the session was Ms. Indrani Bagchi, Diplomatic Editor at The Times of India.

Ms. Indrani Bagchi commenced the session by detailing out the global reality at India and EU where, she mentioned, that approximately 5.5 million people from India go abroad. She discussed about the education and employment perspective and the opportunities and challenges which lies ahead. She puts forward the question to Mr. Manish Gupta regarding his views about the priority area from both sides. Manish Gupta conceptualized the idea of partnership between India and EU laying down the complementarity and strength of both these countries. He mentioned that where EU will be witnessing the ageing population, India is a huge market and huge demographic dividend. The highly skilled workforce from India can help the EU market. What India looks forward with regards to migration is the ease of mobility and taking necessary steps to cater the needs of Indian students as the Indian student community in EU is increasing.

Ms. Bagchi further raised question regarding the issues in India-EU migration and their migration trajectory. Mr. Chatterjee, while establishing the facts regarding India-EU complementarities, advocated that both have advantages in moving together. There are certain problems from both the sides which need to be addressed. For example, India still finds it difficult to negotiate on the trade issues with EU. Other problem is with regards to mode 4 of CATS which talks about the movement of foreign nationals.

MsBagchi, further, raised the issue of Indians facing hurdles in finding employment in the private sectors of EU. Ms. NilaKanthi Ford established that business community does business by strength and sometimes the policies get into way of doing businesses. The technical companies in EU are preferring professionals from EU and US. It’s like collaboration. She suggested that since with industrial revolution the world is changing, there has to be new partnership agreement which facilitate movement. Therefore more such collaboration is needed. On question being raised regarding the role which EU can adopt to address the challenges and issues, Mr. Cullen remarked that EU is interested in skills and talent and India is looked upon as a source to fill that gap. There have been provisions as place such as common rules agreements, fair treatment of Non-EU workers, creating equal opportunities etc. EU card is another such provision where the card holder has the right to live and work in 25 EU countries. Indians have benefitted the most by this scheme and EU is trying to facilitate to make it easier and faster to get EU card. The proposal for the same is still in parliament. There have also been directives and legislations which harmonizes the workplace issues faced by non-EU workers. ‘Fitness Check’ for legal migrants is made applicable to help and facilitate people to come to EU. Cullen added that India is a country with maximum focus and attention and the next year they are planning to publish a report and suggest changes in the right direction.

Moving from labour migration to student migration, Ms. Bagchi requested Dr. Rupa to share her thoughts on how to use the opportunity for student mobility? Dr. Rupa mentioned that there has been diversification in terms of destination country for students. Though language and culture has an issue, it’s not big enough in the contemporary period. In a survey on over 100 students, she found that the students need flexible visa arrangement, extended visa to look for job after studies, internship while studying etc. Finance is one of the major issues which hinder the successful migration of students abroad. Other issues are with regards to non-recognition of qualification and lack of labour market for few courses of study.

Moving from student migration, Ms. Bagchi initiated discussion around the role of diaspora in migration mobility and how can government tap this resource? Mr. Manish Gupta acknowledged that diaspora is an integral part of foreign policy. India is looking forward to developing diaspora network which may be channelized for investment and develop businesses. Diaspora also creates a brand and that changes the perception of people. Beyond that, it goes from government to government. There are different political issues which need to be tackled along. However, it is undeniable that the government has to take the leading role and the stakeholders should also support.  Mr. Chatterjee added that though diaspora is important, it is ultimately the government which has to play a leading role. The issues are on both India side as well as EU side.

Ms. Bagchi raised a very important concern regarding public attitude towards Indian migrants on which Ms. Nila Kanthi mentioned that Indians are everywhere around the world. In US, there are 80 million people. There are 20,000 Indians in Ireland as well. There are different Indian communities around the world. Where we talk about Multiculturalism in India, it is Indianess around the world. Mr. Cullen added optimistically that they want to engage with more Indians in coming years.

Ms. Bagchi, pointed towards the issue of brexit and asked the panel whether the policy recommendation for opportunity might work in similar way post Brexit. On this Mr. Cullen remarked that post Brexit, the position of EU remains unchanged with regards to attract Indians to migrate. It doesn’t desire to alter dialogue or cooperation. Mr Gupta added that what is important at this point of time is to create public awareness. There has to public awareness about the opportunities which lies in EU.

On issues of visas, Ms. Bagchi discussed on what can be done to solve it. Dr. Rupa answered that change in visa policy may not make changes in the significant way. The major issue with regards to student migration has been that of funding. Earlier EU universities were tuition fee exempted. But this is not the case anymore. Moreover, post Brexit, there has been a climate of uncertainty. Earlier UK was looked upon as a gateway towards Europe but now the situation is different. It’s true that diaspora is an untapped asset. They have a long engagement at individual level but it does not build up at large level

Ms. Bagchi probed into some concrete policy intervention which can be made by government from both sides. Dr. Rupa mentioned that nothing moves forward without data and research. Therefore, ground reality needs to be studies. Mr. Manish said that there needs to be holistic approach which takes into consideration the legal challenges and other mutual concerns. Mr. Chatterjee added that mutual recognition is the most important thing. Ms. Ford, further added that collaboration between policy makers and business must be there. This can be done through internship, exchange program etc. Mr. Cullen said that there needs to be knowledge based training and assistance for migration. Along with that EU has increased the number of visas to the Indian.

The session concluded by opening the stage for discussion and remarks.

Report by Tasha Agarwal

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