04 December 2023
Today, Europe experiences perhaps the greatest challenges since the end of the Second World War, in terms of the geopolitical situation and the complexities of flight and migration. Recent events have led commentators to speak of a turning point in world history and the evolvement of a fundamentally changing global geopolitical environment. The war in Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza crisis may be the most recent manifestations of this development, but are only the culmination of a trend that started more than ten years ago. Since then, the world has transitioned from a two-decades-long period of relative stability to increasing volatility and disruption. This change is characterised by a more competitive and less secure global environment, systemic rivalry between the world’s great powers, a multipolar or “poly-nodal” international order, weakened multilateralism and multilateral institutions, increasing state fragility, a growing number of violent conflicts, terrorism, hybrid threats, economic crises, weaponization of energy, food insecurity, climate change and pandemics.
These global shifts pose new challenges for state migration management systems and international cooperation on migration issues. The simultaneous and mutually reinforcing occurrence of the aforementioned factors has already resulted in new migration realities in Europe that are shaped by increasing levels of human mobility - voluntary and forced, regular and irregular - as well as decreasing predictability of the size, directions, and patterns of international migration flows. It can be assumed that these trends will continue to intensify and that migration in its various forms will increase rather than decrease. Governments and other stakeholders are well advised to plan for such developments, while emphasizing that the future of migration can never be accurately predicted. It is not a matter of certainties but of probabilities and plausible scenarios for which migration policy actors should be prepared. This publication aims at contributing to the debate on preparedness in the area of international migration, to present a number of factors that shape the size and structure of migration flows, and to discuss how these drivers might develop in the coming years.