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Interview with ICMPD Director General

24 June 2020

On the occasion of the release of ICMPD's Annual Report 2019, we interviewed the Director General and asked some questions on the way forward in migration policy and his future plans for ICMPD.


Since 2015, migration has been an ongoing topic of public debate. How has this debate evolved? 

Since 2015/2016, there has been a tremendous amount of public attention given to the topic of migration. In fact, it has become one of the critical issues of our time on a level with topics such as climate change or digitization. It is therefore all the more regrettable that the public debate on this topic is still very emotional and highly polarized. This is why ICMPD views one of its main tasks as being to put this debate back on a factual footing.

The European Union has a new Commission, a new parliament and a New Green Deal. It still does not have an answer for solving the problems within the Dublin System. What does a solution need to actually work?

First of all, it is crucial not to start the discussion at the level of details, specific problems and technical challenges. If you start it at this level, it is very likely to get stuck there. The top priority is to discuss and agree on the overarching goals, the ‘big picture’. If the European Union manages to develop these overarching goals, we will also be able to answer all the other questions about details and technicalities as well.

Will climate change be a stronger driver for migration in the future? What are ICMPD’s thoughts on this?

Yes, we believe that climate change could develop into one of the major drivers of displacement on a level comparable to violent conflicts as drivers of displacement today. As regards the effects of climate change, we, like most other experts, expect them to result in mainly internal displacement and migration within countries. In the long run, climate change could become a driver for international migration, too, when previously mobilised people move across state borders.

Of the current global or regional developments – which ones is ICMPD following most closely?

Naturally, we try to follow all developments that might become relevant to international migration. 

However, if asked to highlight some of these developments, I would point to the rather recent development regarding displacement in South America. The displacement crisis in Latin America is one of the biggest in the world. In the meantime, many citizens of Venezuela or Colombia are moving to Spain and might try to reach other European destinations in the future as well. 

Similarly, the situation in Libya is always a critical one in terms of asylum and irregular migration flows to Europe. Finally, Afghanistan continues to be the major source of asylum seekers coming to Europe and we must watch the secondary movements of Afghans from Iran and Turkey very closely. 

In your recent experience, have you seen legal migration become a broader topic in Europe and elsewhere? Are there projects that work? Does ICMPD have a part to play in this?

Often neglected in the public debate, labour migration has been a key issue for Europe in the past and it will remain a key issue in the future. Simply because of demographic developments, Europe will need migrants. The question is how well it will manage the underlying processes. This is why it is crucial to develop legal pathways for labour migration and a systematic approach to it. It will be necessary to discuss these issues with the countries of origin and to build strong and reliable partnerships with them. 


What has the year brought for ICMPD so far, taken aside COVID-19 related restrictions?

We are very proud that Germany became our new Member State. ICMPD is also working closely with the European Institutions and the EU Member States to bring about the New Pact on Migration and Asylum that was announced by the European Commission. In this and many other respects, ICMPD keeps striving to become the main contact point for migration issues in Europe.


This interview was first conducted for the ICMPD Annual Report and presented here in a shortened version. Read the full interview and find all the information about ICMPD in the ICMPD Annual Report 2019