Irregular migrants are, by definition, difficult to capture in population statistics. As such, it remains unknown how many irregular migrants are in the EU and in the various EU Member States today. This is a challenge, given that policymakers have limited capacity to develop policies targeted to a group of people that is ill-defined. This is even more challenging in situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic, given the difficulties in accounting for a sizeable part of population ‘in the shadows’.
Proposals should comparatively assess legal frameworks across the EU that determine the irregular status of migrants (also considering the issue of ‘tolerated status’), and comprehensively assess their impact. Proposals should also evaluate this against existing statistics, analysing who is counted as regular, who as irregular and consequent discrepancies in datasets across Europe resulting from different methodologies and policy frameworks. Thereby, proposals should determine effective methodologies to address such issues. To the extent possible, they should also use available datasets to estimate number of irregular migrants residing in Member States. Project proposals should focus on at least 10 EU countries with a geographical balance across the EU. Proposals are encouraged to account for the sustainability of the project building a pan-European network with the potential to sustain and update estimates through time.
Proposals should also build a network of stakeholders from different national contexts, including, but not limited to, researchers, policymakers (from both EU institutions and Member States), civil society and employers. This network should develop an overview and review of existing knowledge on regularisation schemes for irregular migrants, presenting policy suggestions by identifying what works and what does not. In doing so, it should identify what financial and political costs are associated with the options suggested, considering the relation of this policy with the broader migration management framework.