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EU and member states ‘must work together to tackle brain drain’


Commission Policy Support Facility paper suggests better working conditions and higher salaries for lagging regions

A joint effort between the EU and its member state governments is needed to combat the “negative effects of brain drain”—migration of highly prized workers including researchers—according to a new policy paper.

Emigration of highly skilled workers worsens regional socioeconomic disparities in the regions departed from, the paper from the European Commission’s research-focused Policy Support Facility says. The PSF helps EU member states enhance the quality of their research and innovation investments.

Brain drain is of particular concern in countries facing challenges with their R&I systems, warns the paper circulated by the PSF on 9 October.

In 2021, 32 per cent of people who in emigrated in the EU had a high level of education compared with 28 per cent in 2016, it says, in illustration that there is increased movement of highly skilled workers.

“National governments and the EU must collaborate in sustained efforts to effectively tackle the brain drain,” the paper urges, including by investing in education and research.

The paper calls for national governments to set up “multi-faceted initiatives” to tackle the issue.

It suggests: “One key approach involves improving the attractiveness of the regions and enhancing domestic opportunities, creating favourable work environments, and offering competitive salaries and career prospects.”

European countries can also engage with skilled workers who have moved away, through initiatives such as exchange programmes, it adds.

It notes that the EU has already set up various initiatives to try to combat the problem, including the PSF itself.