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01 March 2024

Estonia: IOM examines national migration and integration framework

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In a recently published opinion piece, head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Estonia Kari Kasper raised key points on the Estonian migration and integration framework, including references to policies, trends, public opinion, the EU context, and future steps to take. Relevant items within the piece are summarised below.

Overall trends:

  • Migration statistics show that Estonia's 'net migration' has been positive since 2015. This has led to a number of issues that the country's migration and integration framework is not yet ready to address.
  • Migration is not only an issue of concern for the capital or big cities - small towns are also seeing a recent increase in migrant newcomers, which means that integration actions must implemented evenly across the country.
  • Migration is often framed in extreme ways in the Estonian public debate. For some, it is seen as a solution to the country's shortages and low birth rates. For others, it is a major threat to national security and 'survival'.

Migration and integration policy:

  • Adaptation is key to well-functioning migration. The adaptation programme set up by IOM must be reviewed and made more personalised and flexible, including with the development of much stronger links to the local level.
  • Action on integration is dependent upon project-based funding and EU funds, which can make it complex and bureaucratic. It should also be remembered that effective integration support involves not just a day or two of training and language learning, rather sustainable, longer-term programmes.
  • Estonia does not have a science-based and long-term migration policy, although has identified a need for better migration and integration management. It is reasonable to emphasise the need for more controlled, predictable, and secure migration.
  • Controlled and orderly labour migration can start in the origin country, where people are offered adaptation training and the necessary know-how before they arrive in Estonia.

Overall, the piece advises that Estonia develop a broader, more holistic migration and integration policy now, with input from migrants themselves, as this will allow the country to 'manage' migration in a way that will most benefit its society.


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Posted by
Kristjan Kaldur
Country Coordinator

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