Greece held the first round of national elections, in May 2023. Immigration and especially integration were not part of the political debate, in contrast to Europe where attention has already turned to the integration of the migrant populations of the last decade and the attraction of new migrants for work. The shift is primarily attributed to data showing that Europe is facing demographic changes with a rapidly ageing population and low birth rates. EUROSTAT predicts that by 2100, the bloc’s population will fall by 6%, or around 30 million, from 448 million today.
In Greece, the demographic decline is evident in the latest census, combined with the departure of Greeks and third country nationals since 2011 and especially in 2015. Already since the pandemic, the country has faced significant shortages in tourism and agriculture, as well as in the construction sector. Ministerial Decision B 2189/3.4.2023 allowed the “import” of foreign workers to cover some of these needs, mainly in the tourism sector. Although this is one way of addressing labour, little effort has been made to integrate the third-country nationals who have remained in the country since 2015 and could contribute to rising labor needs.
In light of the above, three authors examine different aspects of the issue of integration and inclusion of people with a migrant profile in Greece.
Vassilis Papadopoulos analyses recent trends regarding the migrant population, the shift in the number of incoming and outgoing people especially during the decade of the economic crisis and the issues surrounding integration. He offers some policy recommendations, emphasizing that the Greek state has over time failed to implement integration policies, making the process extremely difficult for those who wish to remain.
On the occasion of honorary naturalizations that had taken place in the months prior to the election period, Angelos Tramountanis, examines the granting of citizenship to foreigners, and the organic connection of individuals to a nation. He analyses the role of economic criteria, as well as the chosen method of examining applications for citizenship, which can create conditions that result in the exclusion of a large part of the target group from acquiring citizenship.
Integration and inclusion concern both migrants and refugees, with the latter being asked to manage their stay in the country without robust support from the Greek state. Housing in particular, is a critical issue, especially after the closure of the ESTIA programme in 2022. Based on extensive research, Eva Papatzani explores to what extent the housing of asylum seekers and refugees in Greece since 2015 facilitates – or hinders – their prospects of settling in urban areas.
ENA Migration Policy Unit | Co-ordinator: Dr. Angeliki Dimitriadi