Migration to the European Union from third countries has been substantial over the past few decades, as Europe has historically been considered a continent of relative economic prosperity and political stability. While many foreign-born individuals arrive in the European Union (EU) to work, pursue studies or join family members, the EU also receives a large number of asylum-seekers and refugees, not least in the context of the war in Ukraine since February 2022. As host societies, EU Member States are required to facilitate the integration of migrants, i.e. their acceptance in society and ability to access different services and the labour market.
EU law envisages access to employment for refugees as soon as they are granted refugee status, or for asylum-seekers at the latest within nine months of lodging an asylum application. Ukrainians can rely on immediate protection upon registering for temporary protection in one of the EU Member States. However, employment rates for migrants in general, and refugees and asylum-seekers in particular, are persistently lower than those of native-born population. Moreover, they are more likely to be employed in low-skilled occupations that have high automation potential in the future. If this potential is exploited through the use of artificial intelligence and digitalisation, the European economy is expected to see a decline in low-skilled employment.
To ensure that migrants' skills will match the future EU labour market and fill its gaps, focus should be turned to facilitating the proper recognition of their qualifications, as well as to upgrading their education and skills as needed. The EU supports Member States' integration efforts through its EU action plan on integration and inclusion. In addition, the European Commission is launching a new EU 'talent pool' platform in summer 2022.
This Briefing updates and expands a previous edition, from June 2021.