«Immigration tops the list of challenges of greatest concern to European Union citizens. While in some years immigration has been primarily driven by economic motives and family reunification, in the last few years Europe has experienced a major surge of refugees fleeing wars and conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. The arrival of a large number of asylum seekers in a short period has created huge administrative, border-protection and financial difficulties in several EU countries, and even led to a partial suspension of the border-free intra-EU travel area. The public perception of refugees and other immigrants has been shaped by the devastating conflicts in a number of EU neighbourhood countries and the tragic deaths of migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Concerns are also voiced frequently about the difficulties of integrating people with different cultural backgrounds.
At the same time, there are economic and political reasons to allow the immigration of workers, students and family members, while the provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees is a key value of the European Union. Meanwhile, the public understanding of simple facts about migration is sometimes far removed from reality. We assess the immigration challenge that the EU faces. We analyse public perceptions, extensively map migration patterns in the EU, review the literature on the economic impact of immigration and analyse the integration experiences of immigrants to the EU. We also reflect on immigration policies and the role of private institutions in fostering integration».
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