António Guterres speaks on the podium of the Vision Europe Summit while sitting in an armchair. Next to him one can see the Vision Europe Summit logo displayed on a large video screen.

António Guterres: Countries must regulate migration better

The objective of this year's Vision Europe Summit in Lisbon was to find better answers to the refugee crisis for Europe as a whole. The event's keynote speaker, UN Secretary-General-designate António Guterres, called on countries to do their part – and announced his own political initiatives.

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Eric Thode
Senior Advisor

In his remarks, Guterres, who served as head of the UN refugee agency for 10 years, not only addressed the current situation in Europe and the world, he also presented his vision for the future.

Migration is part of globalization, along with the growing exchange of goods and services and increasing financial flows, Guterres said, even if the community of states has not yet organized or regulated migration in an appropriate manner. To drive home his point, he noted that migration is currently managed mainly by human traffickers. His first appeal, therefore, was to decision makers to finally combat people smuggling, thereby ensuring the dignity and safety of migrants and displaced persons.

Improving the situation for refugees upon arrival

The future secretary-general made it clear that as head of the UN he would not only stand up for the relevant principles, he would also develop concrete, practical policy proposals. Speaking with our chairman and CEO Aart De Geus, Guterres said he wanted to make migration a multilateral issue. Above all, he said he wanted to ensure that public-sector and civil society actors in the countries where refugees first arrive were given more financial resources.

Guterres reminded his audience that countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are currently home to millions of displaced persons, far more than Western nations have admitted. Displaced persons need to be provided with basic amenities, education and possibilities for living a decent life close to their home countries, he said, since that means they would not have to continue on to Europe solely because they lacked the fundamental necessities.

Representatives of the foundations and think tanks participating in the Vision Europe Summit. From left to right: Robin Niblett, Chatham House; Aart De Geus, Bertelsmann Stiftung; Piero Gastaldo, Compagnia di San Paolo; Artur Santos Silva, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; Izabela Styczynska, CASE – Center for Social and Economic Research; Isabel Mota, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; Mikko Kosonen, Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra; Guntram Wolff, Bruegel. A representative of the Jacques Delors Institute is missing. (Photo: Marcia Lessa / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation)

Good management leads to acceptance

In the future, societies everywhere will be multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious, Guterres said, which will require considerable effort to integrate newcomers and prevent ghettos from forming. Governments will have to provide the necessary support to communities and civil society organizations at the local level, he added. According to the new secretary-general, the countries in Europe must begin managing migration and structures for receiving refugees if they want their citizens to accept migration and the influx of displaced persons – since that is the only way fears can be alleviated and newcomers seen as a gain for society.

This year's Vision Europe Summit was held in Lisbon on November 21 and 22, bringing together over 140 policy makers, academic specialists and civil society leaders from throughout Europe. The participants discussed policy recommendations developed by our experts which are designed to achieve a proactive and future-oriented refugee and migration policy at the European and national levels.