Despite the fact that the pandemic has plunged the global economy into a severe recession and forced most of the world into lockdowns over the past two years, migration across the Mediterranean region has not “disappeared” and is not expected to do so in the near future.
The shortage of essential workers throughout the pandemic has highlighted the fundamental importance that labour migration has for Mediterranean countries. Meanwhile, over the past twelve months, at least 130,000 irregular migrants have attempted risky sea journeys to reach the northern shore of the Mediterranean.
Despite this, the debate over migration governance has grown to be increasingly polarised. This risks harming the relations between the two shores, further entrenching positions. While European policymakers focus their attention on discouraging irregular migration and furthering returns, countries from the southern shore have called for widened regular migration channels and for dialogue opportunities that do not necessarily centre on migration.