One year from its conception, the European Commission's Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) has made significant progress and has provided EU policymakers with valuable instruments to access information and data about migration.
On the 1-year anniversary of the KCMD, let's have a look at the main achievements and future plans of the Knowledge Centre, as well as at a new migration profile of Mali.
Globalisation, climate change, inequality, conflicts and war will continue to push people to move in search of safety, a better life or to be reunited with their families. Estimates show that the number of international migrants worldwide could almost double by 2050.
By that time, a total of 405 million people worldwide are expected to live in a country other than their country of origin, compared to 244 million in 2015. The EU will remain an attractive destination and as a result, international migration will continue and will also have an impact on the EU.
Understanding these migratory flows and the root causes of migration is essential for the EU's capacity to anticipate future population trends and the impact of migration – in terms of challenges but also opportunities – on our economy, health, welfare, education systems, and our society as a whole.
Bridging knowledge and data gaps
One of the major challenges for policy-making linked to migration is the lack of comprehensive data and information on migration and refugees. Many data sources exist already, but the information is often fragmented or not easily accessible.
To tackle the issue of fragmented and incomplete data, the European Commission set up a new Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) in June 2016. Its daily activities are run by the Joint Research Centre but its work is jointly steered by the main Commission's services responsible for migration policies.
The Knowledge Centre aims to exploit the developments in data science that allow for new ways to collect data from many different sources.
"Our objective is to provide the necessary data and information to support EU-policy-making on migration. Our work supports the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration, a comprehensive approach to address current and future migratory challenges jointly on a European level. We also look at migration-related issues at global scale, analysing their impact on the EU in the medium to long term", explains Alessandra Zampieri, Head of Demography, Migration and Governance Unit at the JRC in charge of managing the KCMD.
The Knowledge Centre has been tasked with building a comprehensive evidence base on migration and refugee flows and with conducting analyses and studies on their impact on the EU economy, welfare, education system, and society as a whole.
One-stop data shop
In the first months of operation, researchers working for the Knowledge Centre created an inventory of the international and EU-wide data that already existed on migration, and launched the first two data tools which bring together this wealth of data in one place.
The Migration Data Catalogue is an inventory of more than 100 existing datasets linked to demography and migration, made available by international organisations, the European Commission, EU agencies and administrations of some Member States.
The second tool, the Dynamic Data Hub, is a web-based application which builds on the data catalogue and gives direct access to the datasets through an interactive platform.
"These tools combine data on migration and the drivers for migration from different statistical and other type of data sources, and therefore provide a more complete image of the situation. In practice, they provide all migration-related data in a single glance", explains Alessandra Zampieri.
These tools also allow carrying out analyses that provide new and important insights for managing migratory flows.
The KCMD is now working to create new generation migration profiles to support the development and monitoring of the new Partnership Framework with third countries. The migration profiles describe potential causes for migration, indicate where migrants and refugees go, and illustrate the evolution of migration and development topics.
They provide harmonised and comprehensive analyses, covering the current knowledge gaps in terms of sub-national coverage and regularly updated information. The use of a combination of research approaches and data, including open source intelligence and structural and operational data, provides unique information in a user-friendly format.
Apart from supporting the EU to anticipate future developments, the migration profiles also aim at facilitating the identification of relevant development priorities for countries of origin.
For its 1-year anniversary, the KCMD is launching the migration profile of Mali. Work is ongoing to finalise the migration profiles for the four remaining priority compact countries: Nigeria, Senegal, Niger and Ethiopia. Others will follow, in line with the EU priorities which are being defined.
KCMD is currently working on the Atlas on Migration, which will contain the migration profiles and include a section devoted to regional analysis e.g. to illustrate the evidence on migration and mobility within Africa, how different indicators vary across the different African regions, and how they could potentially impact migratory flows towards the EU.
The Centre is also working on mapping migrant communities within European cities, which will for the first time provide an indication of how population groups are distributed within cities.
The maps will support the Action Plan on the Integration of Third-Country Nationals and authorities to better target policy response at the local level related to social cohesion, housing, public services, labour market or education.
To better anticipate future migratory trends, the KCMD will create Migration Inclination Indexes, which will be issued by the end of 2018.
They will provide reliable information on the root causes, incentives and determinants of migration. The aim is to help quantify the relevance of the different drivers of migration towards Europe and the effects of migration-related policies.