EU countries should prepare themselves to receive up to four million more Ukrainian refugees in 2023, according to a forecast by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development.
The forecast is part of the Migration Outlook report 2023 published by the ICMPD on Wednesday (18 January).
Some 4.9 million Ukrainians registered under the EU’s Temporary Protection scheme or similar schemes in other European countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February.
However, the migration think-tank estimates that since 18 million Ukrainians are in urgent need of humanitarian support inside the country, that could lead to an additional four million people entering the EU this year.
The Swedish and Spanish governments, who will hold the rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers this year, have both prioritised migration control during their respective six-month tenures.
That is likely to centre on securing agreement and implementation of the Pact on Migration and Asylum, respecting the so-called roadmap on migration that EU institutions and diplomats informally agreed upon last September, a group of legislative files on migration that EU institutions committed to concluding before the end of this mandate.
Despite the continued importance of migration, particularly from Africa, in the political debate at the EU and national level, the numbers of undocumented migrants from Africa arriving in Spain from North Africa actually dropped by more than 20% in 2022, suggesting a wider drop in numbers attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
There are also divisions within the bloc on whether to offer more liberal visa regimes to third countries such as Morocco and Egypt, the main actors in policing North Africa’s borders, which would increase the number of work and student visas.
In a move that could increase these tensions and pile more pressure on EU borders, the Russian government has announced it will increase the number of flights from North Africa and the Middle East to Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave between Lithuania and Poland.
Michael Spindelegger, director general of ICMPD, said the growing number of partnerships between the EU and third countries “is a very positive development, striking at the root cause of illegal migration but offering opportunities in departure countries and legal pathways to EU countries”.
“Such partnerships, and a constructive stance on visa regimes, will help alleviate the pressure on southern and eastern entry point countries,” he added.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]