21/03/2024 – HumMingBird’s Policy Event: Managing versatility in migration flows towards the EU

HumMingBird’s Policy Event
Managing versatility in migration flows towards the EU

Brussels, March 21, 2024
Thon Hotel, 75 rue de la Loi

Through the Policy Event ‘Managing versatility in migration flows towards the EU’ the HumMingBird research team aims to share some of its key findings and to discuss their policy implications with European policy makers and civil society organisations.

HumMingBird is a Horizon 2020 research with 16 partners from 10 countries that aims to improve the mapping and understanding of shifting migration flows. The research analyses patterns, motivations and new geographies, and tests new methods to forecast emerging and future trends. It also includes qualitative sociological and anthropological fieldwork relating to (mainly irregular) migration.

Following a series of publications and expert workshops, the time has come to draw policy lessons with European and national policy makers. The policy event will consist of four consecutive panel sessions, with each topic being introduced by HumMingBird researchers and discussed with (European and national) policy makers as well as experts from think tanks and civil society organisations. The provisional programme can be found in the next pages. Although all topics are inter-related, participants will be able to join for one or more sessions according to their availability and interests. Participation is free of charge and can occur in person or online. Prior registration is necessary in any event.

We invite you to save the date and to register online (Registration form HumMingBird policy event — Hummingbird (hummingbird-h2020.eu) by 8 March at the latest (using the button below) for one or more of the panel sessions described below. Further details and the link for online participation will be communicated after 8 March.

The HumMingBird research team looks forward to meeting you !
With kind regards,

Prof. dr. Idesbald Nicaise
(KU Leuven – HIVA)

Prof. dr. Tuba Bircan
(VU Brussels)


Preliminary Programme

09.30 – 10.00  Opening session

  • Chair: Henriette Van Eijl (head of unit, European Commission – DG RTD)
  • Keynote: The European agenda on migration policies: achievements and challenges.
    by Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (European Parliament – S&D, chair of Committee on Home Affairs)

10.00 – 11.20  Session 1: The voices of migrants. Reflexions on the complexity of migration trajectories

This panel will deal with three strongly related topics: (1) ‘Lessons learnt’ on the basis of the HMB-project’s rich bundle of qualitative empirical data on migration motives and experiences of settled migrants, including the gap between the initial decision to migrate and shifting drivers as well as upcoming obstacles while being on the move. (2) The shaping of individual migration trajectories and the role of migration hubs as potential fields of action, not least with regard to developing a new approach in migration policy. (3) Inspired by theoretical thinking, science, politics and media have to reach beyond simple push-/pull-arguments in order to take the tension between aspirations and capabilities adequately into account.

  • Chair: Henriette Van Eijl (head of unit, European Commission – DG RTD)
  • Presentation of research results: Daniel Göler (professor) & Jonathan Ernsthenrich (Univ. of Bamberg)
  • Panel:
    • Damian Boeselager (European Parliament – Committee on Home Affairs, Greens) – tbc
    • NN (Ministry of the Interior, Italy) -tbc
    • Eleonore Kofman (professor, Middlesex University, London)
    • Anna Zobnina (director, European Network of Migrant Women)

11.20 – 11.40 Coffee break

11.40 – 13.00 Session 2: Attitudes of the European population towards immigrants

Our research explores the link between media consumption and attitudes toward migrants in six European countries. Based on an online survey with 9,079 respondents, we find that media choices significantly impact perceptions of migrants. Public television correlates with positive attitudes, while commercial TV often results in negativity, except in Hungary. The CARIN criteria (Control, Attitude, Reciprocity, Identity, Need) used by the public to evaluate migrants’ deservingness to settle in a country offers a nuanced understanding of public support for different migrant types and could inform integration policymaking. Trust in media plays a vital role, with reputable sources fostering positive views. We also analysed hate speech on Twitter and found it predicts public opinion on immigrants, highlighting its threat to coexistence.

  • Chair: Michalis Moschovakos (policy officer, European Commission – DG RTD)
  • Presentation of research results: Leen D’haenens (professor, KU Leuven) & Alina Sirbu (Univ. of PISA)
  • Panel:
    • NN (European Commission – DG HOME) tbc
    • Ourania Stavropoulou (permanent secretary, Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Greece)
    • Koen De Wulf (director, Myria, Belgium)
    • Jasmijn Slootjes (ass. director, Migration Policy Institute Europe)

13.00 – 14.00  Sandwich Lunch

14.00 – 15.20  Session 3: Big Data and AI for monitoring and forecasting migration flows

AI and Big Data analytics have been increasingly adopted in migration research, to complement and/or to refine traditional migration statistics and modelling approaches. However, the usefulness of these new tools is not unequivocal. While some studies have demonstrated the benefit of using Big Data to enhance the accuracy of migration forecasts and to facilitate timely monitoring of migration flows, others have shown a variety of reservations as well as raised ethical and privacy concerns. This session aims to spur further innovations in the field, and ultimately bring us closer to a comprehensive methodological framework of human migration. It will start with a short presentation of how the HumMingBird project has harnessed different big data sources to develop multi-level indicators (e.g., using data from social media, mobile phone, scientific publications, satellite, air traffic, mortality data, internet searches, global events). Several case studies will be presented to demonstrate the pros and cons of our methodological innovations. Finally, a novel explainable machine learning model for migration forecasting will be introduced, which integrates a variety of large-scale non-traditional data sources. The session will conclude with a round table discussion on the pros and cons of different types of organic data, as well as addressing the issues related to research ethics and data privacy.

  • Chair: Andreas Obermaier (research programme manager, European Commission – DG RTD)
  • Presentation of research results: Tuba Bircan (professor, Univ. of Brussels) and Alina Sirbu (professor, Univ. of Pisa)
  • Panel:
    • Martin Taschner (head of unit, European Commission, DG HOME)
    • Damien Jusselme (director, Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, IOM)
    • Umberto Minora (European Commission, Joint Research Centre)
    • Emmanuel Letouzé (director, Data-Pop Alliance, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative)

15.20 – 15.40  Coffee break

15.40 – 17.00  Session 4: The effectiveness of migration policies

Migration policies have a long-lasting impact on democratic societies. The openness or closedness of migration policies influences the number of migrants, their characteristics, and their integration outcomes. The shifts between regular and irregular migration, as well as shifts within irregular migration, exemplify the complexity of the effects that policies may have; and the same holds for shifts between destination countries and effects on migrants and local inhabitants. In this session we will discuss the intended and unintended effects of migration policies on migration trends and integration outcomes as well as recommendations for the promotion of more effective and evidence-based migration policies.

  • Chair: Mina Stareva (deputy head of unit, European Commission – DG RTD)
  • Presentation of research results: Basak Yavcan (director, Migration Policy Group)
  • Panel:
    • NN, European Parliament (Committee on Home Affairs) – tbc
    • Axel Kreienbrink (deputy director, Migration, Integration and Asylum Research Centre, Germany)
    • Rainer Münz (professor, former special advisor on migration and demography at the European Commission’s European Political Strategy Centre)
    • Tom Devriendt (coordinator advocacy team Caritas International)

17.00 – 17.20  Concluding comments

  • Ides Nicaise (professor, KU Leuven) and Tuba Bircan (professor, Univ. Brussels), coordinators of HumMingBird