Migrants Matter seems to have a kind of connection with the EU Commissioner(s) responsible for migration. This connection started with our question last year, asked via the European Parliament to Cecilia Malmstrom, the former Commissioner for Home Affairs. We have now made yet another approach towards the Commissioner with our e-postcard to Dimitris Avramopoulos.
Mr Avramopoulos was appointed Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship in November 2014 and was asked to deal with the largest influx of migrants that Europe has experienced in recent years. Judging by his announcements until now, July 2015, his focus has been almost exclusively on asylum seekers and migrants in general with no specific mention of migrant workers so far. Generally, it seems that the EU takes greater account of the matter(s) of migration now than it
Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissoner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship
In its Agenda on Migration, updated last May, the EU recognises the increasing needs for an incoming foreign labour force due to economic and demographic changes within the EU and aims to create an attractive work destination for migrants. It specifies that the migrants it refers to are the highly educated ones, whereas it seems to simply ignore the millions of migrant workers that are employed in low-skilled and unskilled jobs across the continent.
But on the positive side, in 2010 the Commission proposed an agreement that allows for the creation of legal channels for seasonal migrant workers in an attempt to combat both irregular migration and the exploitation of migrants in the European workplace. In 2013 the seasonal workers directive was adopted by the Council and Member States are required to implement its provisions within the next two and a half years.
By taking a closer look at the agreement though, its scope seems quite limited as it refers exclusively to seasonal workers that have only temporarily left their homes and are planning to return after the expiration of their contract which cannot exceed nine months within a period of twelve months.
But why does our advocacy focus on persuading the Commissioner to support the ratification of the Convention? Isn’t ratification a decision to be made by the States and in this case the member States of the European Union? Generally yes, ratification of international conventions is an action required by sovereign States, however the ICMW poses a special situation because it touches upon both national and EU competencies regarding migration policies as the EU has shared competence in this area. The EU claims that Member States can only proceed to ratification of the ICMW if the EU authorises them to do so. Therefore, the Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs is one of the key persons that can promote the ratification.
That kind of authorisation has been given before. As recently as 2011, the European Commission presented a proposal for a Council Decision authorising EU countries to ratify the International Labour Organisation 2011 Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers (Convention No. 189) which was adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2013. So far it has been ratified by Italy, Germany, Finland Belgium and Ireland but has entered into force only in the first two. It is therefore possible for the Commission to issue a similar proposition authorising EU member States to ratify the ICMW. By doing so, the EU will set a powerful and positive example for the other large migrant destination countries and areas worldwide and will have taken a first step to ensuring that all its inhabitants have their rights respected.
 European leaders are “declaring war on smugglers,” but advocates for migrant workers say that’s not enough, Quartz, accessed on July 2, 2015
 Working conditions: Commission urges Member States to implement ILO domestic workers convention, accessed on July 2, 2015.
 Ratifications of C189 - Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189), ILO website, accessed July 2, 2015.