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Since the late 1990s, issues related to international migration have been receiving more attention from policy-makers. This reflects the changes in the magnitude and composition of migration flows, among other reasons.

Major changes have taken place in the sources and destinations of migrants: traditional receiving countries have lost prominence, while Southern European countries that were exporting migrants until fairly recently have now become recipient countries, and some Eastern European Member States are now both sending and receiving migrants. The EU recognises that immigration has an important role to play in increasing Europe’s growth potential and realising the goals of the EU 2020 in general.

DG ECFIN is contributing to the debate on migration policy in the EU: for example, the Communication of June 2003 on ‘Immigration, Integration and Employment’, in which the Commission explored the role of immigration in the context of demographic ageing, and outlined policy orientations and priorities to promote the integration of immigrants. DG ECFIN has also contributed to Commission Communications on the global approach to migration, which brings together the various relevant policy areas including external relations, development, employment, and justice, freedom and security. DG ECFIN’s analyses of migration and labour mobility cover the economic impact of immigration in EU Member States, migration and demographic change, and migration and development. At the international level, DG ECFIN has also participated in the G20 Study Group on Labour Mobility and Demographics.

Migration can also have important effects on the economic and social development of migrants' countries of origin. When migrants leave they take all their knowledge and skills with them, thus contributing to the 'brain drain'. And when working in their host country, migrants acquire new skills that can be of a great value for the development of their country of origin when they return (a 'brain gain'). In addition, the money that migrants regularly send home to their families and friends – so-called remittances – is becoming an increasingly important source of income in the migrants' countries of origin.

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