Introduction to  migration

Since 2011 increasing numbers of people have fled towards Europe, as a result of conflict and violence in several African countries, civil unrest in North Africa, and the civil war in Syria. These numbers have swollen to a flood in 2015, on a scale not seen since WW11. The subsequent crisis involves the whole of Europe, and widens the issues for the EU to address namely humanitarian aid, EU asylum policy, demographic problems for an ageing continent, and integration. As the German Chancellor Angela Merkel put it in August 2015: asylum “could be the next major European project.”

In the UK concerns have focused on the number of EU migrants arriving in the country after the 2004 enlargement and on the migrants camped in the “jungle” in the Calais region.

A starting point in the debate has to be about sorting out the language used and being clear about the distinction between migrant, refugee and economic migrant.


Click here for a simple interactive quiz to test what you know already and any misunderstandings about the meaning of key words – immigrant, refugee, asylum seeker, illegal immigrant.