Narrative on migration in Europe must change, experts conclude

06 June 2014

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Academics and representatives of NGOs and think tanks gathered at the Oxford Martin School on 4 June for a one-day workshop on how migration is viewed and debated in Europe, and how more positive perspectives can be created.

The workshop, 'Towards a new migration narrative in Europe', was organised by the International Migration Institute, an Oxford Martin School institute, and the Open Society European Policy Institute.

Organisations represented included the University of Oxford's Migration Observatory, YouGov, Demos, the Public Interest Research Centre, British Future, and the Oxford Centre for the Study of Intergroup Conflict. Topics discussed included assumptions about migration, the recent European Parliament elections, xenophobic political parties, and learning from other public debates where the narrative has become more positive.

Dr Oliver Bakewell, Co-Director of the International Migration Institute, said: "Research around migration often gets very little traction when it comes to public policy and debate if it runs against the prevailing narrative that’s very hostile and negative. One question we addressed was whether migration was actually too high up the agenda, obscuring more fundamental issues of inequality, justice and rights. We don’t need to make migration the centre of the story; we need to see it as part of life bringing both opportunities and challenges."