The migratory flows of recent years, as opposed to those of the first post-war decades, are characterized by:
- the widening of family unity phenomenon, (b) legal and illegal migrants, and (c) the significant number of refugees and asylum-seekers, a number of applications that reaches the 200,000.
The gradual conversion of all 15 European Union countries into immigrant host countries makes migration a common feature of the Member States of the European Union. This, combined with the objective of European integration and the prospect of enlargement of the European Union, is increasingly combined with the need for a European immigration policy.
Immigration in the coming decades will continue to be a key factor in demographic developments, which will help to avoid a decline in the total population of Greece and the other countries of the European Union. Of course, such a prospect is linked to the development of the political socio-economic integration policies of immigrants. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to think that the migratory factor can in the long run meet the long-term needs of the economy in employment, since in such a case very high levels of immigration inflows are required.
The institutional framework for the implementation of immigration policy in Greece, as supplemented by Law 3386/2005, offered a third opportunity to legalize migrants while maintaining the logic of legal, through complex transnational procedures. Thus, in reality, an immigration policy aimed at the absolute state control of flows is being reproduced on the basis of meeting the demand for specialties that are not adequately provided in the domestic labour market, while the need for a one-off legalization of migrants is accepted.
In particular, the researched field carried out in service or other factors that have followed from several positions the implementation of immigration policy in Greece leads to the basic conclusion that the state mechanism and the local government have not yet completed the infrastructure, human resources and knowledge which requires such a mobilization of the administration. This means that migrants’ response to the immigration policy is positive, and the administrative environment in which they have to declare it does not achieve high levels of effective functioning.
Although there is at the Ministry of Interior the Department of Immigration Policy, which is responsible for the issues of foreigners in Greece, the Ministry itself does not know the number of immigrants in our country. At the same time, within the country, the government declares that there are 850,000 immigrants, the Finance Minister abroad, and in particular during his last visit to the United States, reported that their number reached 1.5 million.
- 2. The issue of refugees in Greece
It is worth noting that for 2006 and 2007 there is an increase in the number of asylum applications, but there is a clear decrease in the number of recognitions.
It has been found that most of them are not refugees, but just illegal immigrants seeking to be covered as civil refugees.
Among the countries of the European Union, Greece has the largest number of immigrants compared to the population and the economic situation in the country.
It is significant that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees points out that Greece has adopted one of the most progressive asylum laws in Europe, but the problems are – notably – unemployment and social security.
So, I have ideas and suggestions to the co-responsible Ministries. Proposals for reforming the political asylum system, the main points of which are:
1) Need to maintain the mechanisms guaranteeing an objective and impartial assessment of asylum claims.
2) Specialization of staff dealing with competent authorities, either examining or ruling on asylum applications.
3) Enhance the provisions on how to enforce decisions on refugees in order to adequately safeguard their right to judicial protection if they are recognized as political refugees.
Immigration policies in the European Union
Migration to the European Union in the coming years will continue to be a key factor in political developments.
But the question is: what policy model will be that will prevail in immigration policy in the European Union? It will be the model of France, Sarkozy’s (the position of a French Minister in immigration policy that will choose what are the country needs – technicians, doctors, workers), will be the model of Germany, or it will be the model of temporary or seasonal migration depending on the needs of the labour market of the Member States by applying the open method of coordination?
Undoubtedly, the role and contribution of the European Union in shaping immigration policy as well as in managing the migration phenomenon is obvious and decisive. This is mainly because of the transnational character that politicians gave in the immigration phenomenon to promote the free movement of citizens within the European Union.
However, the main policy orientations should be based on fundamental principles and main guidelines that are tailored to the needs of all European immigration policies. For this reason and regardless of the national specificities and sensitivities of a country, all member states and the European Union must take into account the following principles:
Border security is a basic guideline of immigration policy but must follow rather than precede the preservation of internal social cohesion and solidarity.
No immigration policy can succeed unless national policies for the integration of already established and legitimate migrants, as well as those who enter and settle in lawful terms, are not carefully designed.
It is necessary to establish a European framework for immigration policy with the possibility of legal regulation and specialization of immigration measures at the level of the region and even of the local community.
Making the most of the experience of immigrant host countries is valuable for new immigrant host countries.
Indeed, following the abandonment of the idea of national immigration policies, which in various ways coincided with the “zero immigration” logic, the European Union is progressively shaping a new common framework for immigration policy, the principles of which are: 
Integrated management of migratory flows, balancing inputs for humanitarian and economic reasons, combating illegal entry, especially entry through illegal circuits.
Fair treatment of third-country nations living and working in countries of the European Union.
Working with countries of origin to regulate migratory flows.
Long-term pursuit of a common policy on political asylum.
Thus, the prospect of developing a European immigration policy should address at least the following aspects of the migration phenomenon, such as:
The enlargement of the European Union with the ten new member states, which will encourage migratory flows to the countries of the Union.
Family union, which is the most important form of immigration influx into the European Union.
The question of political refugees, the gravity of which since the early 1990s has made it imperative for a uniform regulation of the phenomenon. This single regulation may concern the agreement on the rules governing the reception of refugees and political asylum seekers, the harmonization and application of those rules, and the creation at European level of a special fund providing financial assistance to refugees.
The matter of economic migrants, which requires a definition and redefinition of the objectives, in the sense of the conjunctural or permanent nature of meeting the labour market needs of the migrant labour force.
The socio-economic integration of immigrants, which requires policies (employment, professional training, social protection, immigrant education) that concern both immigrants and host societies.
The organization and operation of educational institutions, in the sense that education is, together with the family, a key factor in socialization.
Co-operation with the sending countries of immigrants in the sense of providing financial assistance in the long run to eliminate the conditions conducive to immigration as well as to control illegal immigration and the movement of refugees.
In this direction, immigration will be more a functional component of the European labour market and less likely to be an element adapted to the short-term needs of the international economy. Thus, in this strategic direction, the European Union will move away from the ‘Europe – Fortress’ policies for immigrants inside and outside the Union and will approach those who will make it an important pole of the international labour market with internal (European) and international mobility.
Thus, such a strategic orientation of immigration policies in the European Union is in line with the decisions of the 15 Heads of State Summit in Tampere (Finland) (15 ÷ 10 ÷ 99) which laid the foundations for the ‘third pillar of the European Union’ the development of a common European policy on immigration issues of political asylum and justice.
Today, four years after Tampere’s decision and the accession of ten new countries to the European Union, and in connection with the negative assessment of the “zero migration” policy of recent decades, the Greek Presidency (First Semester 2003) in a structured behaviour “of the European Union Member States for the elaboration of a common European policy has drafted and formulated the following positions on immigration issues:
Equal sharing of expenditure between Member States. The contribution of the European budget to immigration and asylum issues is of major importance for Greece. It considers that tackling a collective problem of the European Union from the countries with the greatest pressure requires collegiality in all aspects and hence in the financial issue. Greece submits that member states should contribute to issues that concern them, regardless of whether the actions are being carried out in their own country. It also appears for the first time that the issue of equal sharing expenditure (burden – sharing) is being debated by member states.
Integrated management of external borders, with the establishment of a European border guards.
Illegal migration through the sea, for which Greece considers it necessary to develop a system of monitoring, control and exchange of information, deeming it necessary to establish a system of joint financing of these initiatives.
Fight against illegal immigration and cooperation with third countries. Greece agrees with the provision of technical – financial assistance to develop the necessary structures in third countries so as to reduce illegal immigration.
The central orientation of the above-mentioned positions focuses on undertaking European initiatives to manage the external borders of the European Union, tackling illegal immigration and sharing the necessary expenditure equally between Member States.
Thus, with the prospect that the European Union needs immigrants to avoid a decline in their workforce, the fifteen Member States should, among other things, decide on the following issues of immigration policy in the European Union:
A radical reform of the legislation governing political asylum.
Establish minimum principles and inviolable rules to avoid “asylum shopping”.
A clear interpretation (in a legal text) of the terms “refugee”, “migrant” and “economic migrant”.
Procedure for entry of third-country nationals to the European Union (uniform safe entry visa, visa, etc.).
Creating a European border guard (form, financing, responsibilities).
Improvement of the Schengen Treaty Acquis (operational cooperation, joint consular offices, creation of a visa database, etc.).
Defining the obligations and material assistance that Member States must provide to those who arrive at their borders, regardless of the reason that forced them to leave their homeland.
To the extent that there are decisions on the above-mentioned issues, it will be in the new EU 25-member states that a gradual transition towards the European policy and social regulation of modern migratory flows will be included.
- Conclusions – proposals
Current developments in migratory flows in Greece and the European Union are significantly affected by the war operations in Iraq as well as by the enlargement of the European Union to 27 member states, mainly Central and Eastern Europe.
In particular, the impact of immigrants’ flow in the 1990s on population changes in Greece is significant due to their contribution to the natural population growth due mainly to the juvenile pyramid of the foreign population.
However, it is clear that migration to Greece is a key factor in avoiding a future decline in the overall population and contributing to meeting labour market needs, but in no way can prevent the future decline in the working age population and the widening of the demographic of the aging population of Greece.
At the same time, the entry of immigrants into the Greek market was not accompanied by serious deregulation in the labour market and the Greek society in general.
However, as far as the Greek economy is concerned, migrant employment has allowed, as far as it is concerned, postponement of structural problems, since the increase in the country’s product was not accompanied by an increase in the competitiveness of the various economic activities. The stabilization of the foreign labour force relationship with Greece’s labour market is associated with the loss of opportunities for restructuring the Greek economy.
Thus, it is possible to make the assumption that the stagnation of restructuring processes in the productive structure and technological level of several sectors of economic activity in Greece renews the demand for unskilled and cheap labour and hence for a migrant labour force that comes to Greece under conditions that lead to significantly in the black economy.
In such a context, supply-adjustment policies need to be matched with policies to regulate the demand for migrant labour so as not to observe a goal of pursuit and real economic development.
For these very reasons, immigration policy must be part of the development and labour force policy, part of which are also the immigrants.
Of course, immigration policy in Greece does not have this developmental dimension. More than one dimension of immigration legitimisation distinguished (797.093 people, March 2001) registered in Greece, whose response to this immigration policy is positive, is distinguished, while the central and regional government and the local authorities implementing the immigration policy have not achieved high levels of effective operation and service for migrants.
It is worth noting, however, that immigration into Greece and the European Union of 25 member states will continue to be a key factor in demographic developments. It is therefore necessary to develop a European immigration policy in the new circumstances (transnational character of migration, the possibility of free movement of citizens within the European Union).
The European Union is therefore called upon to move from national policies towards a common European immigration policy, choosing the model that characterizes it.
Thus, with a view that the European Union needs migrants to avoid a reduction in their workforce, it is itself required to reach decisions that will signal the beginning of a gradual transition towards European political and social regulation modern migratory flows.