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Project News: Webinar on return patterns and policies in the context of EU-mobility and COVID-19

18 June 2020

On 17 June, the TALENTAS project organised a virtual expert discussion to discuss practical measures within return policies in the context of intra-EU mobility. This event convened a number of senior experts and practitioners in the area of return (from Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, and Greece) to examine the immediate and potential long-term impact of COVID-19 on return policies and diaspora engagement.

During the event, participants explored the responses and measures initiated in the respective countries and good practices currently being put in place.

Free movement of labour within the EU has led to unprecedented possibilities for EU citizens to improve their lives by moving to Member States with higher incomes and more job opportunities. However, the consequences for Member States that are mostly origin countries have so far received little attention. Despite the relatively good economic situation and growing wages in many of countries, return migration has been much smaller in scale than anticipated. Facing increasing pressures on their domestic labour markets, a number of Member States have started to develop policies aimed at attracting their citizens to return to the country - some more pro-actively than others.

Most EU Member States do not have a stand-alone and comprehensive policy to attract their citizens to return; such elements rather form part of other policies, such as diaspora policies. A number of states have also established return policies as part of broader migration strategies; return might also constitute an important element of development policies. Integration policies also play a role, as returning emigrants and their families have some similar settlement needs compared with immigrants. Moreover, return policies are seen as a dimension of talent attraction: While a few countries pursue a welfare-oriented approach, i.e. supporting emigrants who are in distress situations abroad, the return of emigrants has primarily received attention among policymakers and the private sector in the context of the global competition for talent.

This event was organised within the project ‘Developing a strategy for the implementation of a talent policy in Lithuania (TALENTAS),’ which is being implemented by ICMPD in cooperation with the Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Ministry of Economy and Innovation and the Government Agency Invest Lithuania and funded by the European Commission Directorate General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM). The objective of TALENTAS is to contribute to the attraction and retention of higher numbers of talents in Lithuania, including students, graduates, and highly skilled Lithuanians living abroad. It targets relevant Lithuanian public institutions, employers and universities in order to increase their institutional capacities to formulate, develop and implement policies and actions.

More information on the project can be found here.