Honourable Secretary Mulay,
Dear Friends and Partners,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you to today's discussion on the EU-India Cooperation Dialogue on Migration and Mobility. This event is meant as a stock-taking overview of the progress done in this field since our last EU-India Summit in March 2016, as well as on the challenges that still lie ahead of us and which we are yet to tackle jointly.
India is a key strategic partner of the EU. In migration terms India is not only a country of origin of migration to the EU, as well as an important country of destination of migrants itself.
Let me quote few important numbers.
According to UN statistics, there were 1.2 million Indians living in the European Union in 2015, mostly in UK, Italy and Germany. India hosts only 9 thousand Europeans but many more migrants, in particular from the neighbouring countries.
In 2016 Schengen States issued over 725 thousand visas, an increase of 37% in just two years. Applicants from India are now the 5th largest group after Russia, China, Ukraine and Turkey. Similarly, in 2016 Indian nationals received over 135 thousand first residence permits to the EU, the fourth most after Ukraine, US and China. This number includes 52 thousand employees and 21 thousand students. 28% of all EU Blue Cards, a scheme for highly-qualified workers, was issued to the Indian nationals, with China coming 2nd with 11%.
But dialogue is not only about citing numbers. It is about building a joint understanding that leads to a partnership.
The challenges that India and the EU face in this area are similar and we both recognise the implications of movement of people, as well as people-to-people contacts.
The European Union have been discussing migration issues since the first High Level Dialogue on Migration in 2006 which followed the establishment of the EU-India Strategic Partnership in 2005.
But important steps happened in the last two years. In March 2016, in the run up to the 13th EU-India Summit, the EU and India signed a joint Declaration on a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM), which was then endorsed by the leaders. Let me also say that we expect that CAMM's implementation will be discussed during the upcoming Summit in Delhi next month.
The CAMM, as a framework for cooperation, is the start of a longer term process, which is also represented by this dialogue. The CAMM addresses four pillars in a balanced manner:
We further advanced our work on the implementation of the CAMM through a High Level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility held in Brussels in April this year, which Secretary Mulay kindly co‑chaired with Director General of Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission, Mr. Mathias Ruete.
We have also understood that advancing a dialogue requires experts help, hence the EU recently initiated a cooperation with our partners from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD. Our aim is to advance the EU-India partnership through research and dialogue on our policy objectives and best practices.
I look forward to this upcoming hands-on collaboration and dialogue, and particularly to the practical outcomes of the exercise. These will further strengthen our ongoing partnership in this field, and –hopefully – open new channels for exchange of ideas and best practices. My special thanks go to the Ministry of External Affairs for your continuous commitment and for support in partnering with us in making our relationship increasingly more operational.
Let me use this opportunity to thank again everyone here today for your presence and for your active involvement in the ongoing debate on migration and mobility. I wish you a fruitful and enriching discussion.
Thank you very much for your attention.