"Putting Their Lives on Hold': The Adventurous Path Towards Migrant Integration into Greek Society

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Apostolos PAPADOPOULOS, Harokopio University of Athens, Department of Geography, Greece
Loukia-Maria FRATSEA, Harokopio University of Athens, Greece
By the mid-1980s Greece entered into a period of transition vis-à-vis migration. Emigration was gradually replaced with immigration from “the Balkans” as nearly three quarters of immigrants came from Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. Recently a ‘new map of European migrations’ was unveiled, where new migrant flows originating from Africa and Asia are passing through Greece to reach Europe.

While the development of Greek migration policy paved the way for better integration prospects into the labor market and society, migrants’ aspirations and expectations where "put on hold". Even before the start of the economic crisis, the record of migrant integration policy was significantly poor, while half decade later there are limited improvements.

In the midst of the most severe recession, migrants are amongst the most vulnerable groups and usually the hardest hit by the economic crisis. Rising unemployment rates of migrants are accompanied by rising anxiety about the future labour market opportunities. Job scarcity fuels competition in labour markets, while migrant workers are much more likely to take up precarious jobs and to endure poor working conditions regardless of their qualifications or education.

The paper aims at deciphering the various features of migrant's journey to Greece, by analyzing their aspirations, their motivations, and the challenges that migrants face. First, the paper elaborates on the available statistical data about immigration in Greece and then will critically review the current migration and integration policies. Next the paper draws from various research projects that were carried out before and during the economic recession in order to juxtapose migrants’ expectations and challenges that they face in Greece today. Both quantitative and qualitative data are utilized offering a more integrated picture of migrants’ experiences and problems. Finally, the paper will focus on current migration policy issues to be tackled both by policy-makers and local societies.