Reflecting on freedom of movement

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11-12 December 2014, European Parliament in Brussels: seminar to discuss a critical and forward-looking approach to migration policies: reflecting on freedom of movement

The principle goal of the Alter Summit is to contribute towards building an open Europe, a Europe that is democratic, social, environmentally friendly and feminist, that truly respects human rights for everyone, to include economic, social and cultural rights. The seminar on 11 and 12 December will shed some light on how the European Union’s present migration policy is moving away from these values, in particular addressing the serious and repeated violations of migrants’ most fundamental rights and how these violations are the result of policy decisions adopted in the highest echelons. The seminar will also explore the unspoken reasons for restricting legal migration and the fight against illegal migration. In this context in particular, the question of the influence exerted by lobbyists on departments within the European Union and relating to big business will be addressed on the basis of documented research conducted on this subject.
Discussions will focus on the issue of closing borders and the distinction between migrants who are legal residents and migrants who are illegal residents. This issue will be examined from theoretical and ethical as well as pragmatic aspects. Theoretical and ethical examination will be based on several reports of a philosophical nature that specifically address the issue of open borders in the context of neo-liberal management of society, national sovereignty and social justice. The more pragmatic analysis will aim to take issue with the theory of restricting legal migration and closing borders as a prerequisite for safeguarding social and economic rights for the citizens of the European Union. In order to do this, it is intended to establish three working groups to respectively address migration and migration policies relating to the issues of labour and employment (to include labour law), social security and public finances and poverty and social inequality.
These diverse discussions will allow participants to debate the merits of potential conditions and approaches for a migration policy based on open borders and on real equal rights and treatment for all and to explore the links between such a policy and the defence of more democratic, egalitarian and sustainable policies, in particular social, economic, commercial and financial policies. Here, the seminar is intended as an important opportunity for reflection and action by the Alter Summit on questions of migration and their connection with the economic and financial governance of our society.

Without giving serious thought and developing an innovative approach to migration policies, thinking and acting on the manner in which the economy and finance are managed and acting on social and economic rights seem largely doomed to failure. Similarly, it seems ever more illusory to seriously defend the rights of migrants without challenging the overall system under which their rights are denied. It is therefore essential to combine reflection and action in both these areas. This is why active participation in this seminar by trade unionists and other people working on issues of economies and social and economic rights is crucial.

By Mikaël Fransens, Ciré asbl
Translated from French by Cherry Shelton-Mills, Coorditrad