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Brain Drain in the EU: addressing the challenge at all levels

Opinion Number: CDR 4645/2019
Rapporteur: BOC Emil
Commission: SEDEC
Status: Adopted
Date: 12/02/2020
Contribute to addressing the challenges that the brain-drain phenomenon can pose to the EU's territorial development, cohesion, and competitiveness;
Building on the 2018 CoR study "Addressing brain drain: The local and regional dimension", make policy recommendations for local and regional authorities (LRAs) and for EU action;
Help formulating appropriate policies and/or measures to retain, attract, or regain a highly educated workforce in sending regions based on various tools existing in LRAs and Member States in order to prevent and mitigate brain drain, and to attract brains both within and beyond the EU;
Call for EU support to regions and cities by providing solutions and more coordinated support, as has been done by way of example for healthcare workers via the Action Plan for the EU Health Workforce.

- draws attention to the risk brain drain poses to the long-term sustainability of the European project. Sending regions are in a double bind: they need convergence (to close the gap with receiving regions), but are losing their skilled workforce. In the long term, any change or transition to a sustainable and competitive economic model based on the knowledge economy and high added-value products would seem very difficult to achieve in a scenario where disparities between sending and receiving regions are widening.

- suggests that LRAs set up local alliances, including all stakeholders (public authorities, businesses, universities, NGOs, etc.), which are able to draft and implement local policies that help to mitigate brain drain.

- recommends that different types of response be identified and implemented for each subcomponent of the brain drain phenomenon – brain gain, brain waste, brain circulation and re-migration. Each of these areas calls for different, specific solutions;

- recommends that the European Commission steps up its efforts to reduce regional disparities, which are one of the major causes of brain drain. The cohesion funds play a crucial role in supporting our regions and areas that suffer from such disparities;

- considers it crucial that LRAs understand the importance of universities' and vocational education and training providers' role in local development within the knowledge-based economy. Public authorities need to develop partnerships with universities, and also to be aware of the need to support universities, including through investment in local infrastructure.

- recommends that the European Commission actively support – in close cooperation with the European Committee of the Regions, the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers – the efforts of local and regional public bodies in addressing brain drain.
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