An EU funded project on irregular migration trends in Europe, implemented by the ELIAMEP Migration Team has found that there were 205,000 undocumented migrants present in Greece in 2007.

According to the RESEARCH BRIEFING on Greece, this is a substantial decrease from the estimates in the 1990s pointing up to 700,000 irregular migrants. Nonetheless, even scientific estimates on irregular migration should be taken with a pinch of salt advises Thanos Maroukis, a Research Fellow at ELIAMEP who has worked extensively on Greek and European datasets on irregular migration. ‘

Estimates released by the media, especially those quoting politicians and state officials are unreliable’ notes Maroukis ‘They use apprehensions data in order to describe the size of irregular migration without considering that apprehensions may count twice the same person. They do not distinguish between people trying to enter the border and people caught within the country. They also neglect the fact that a higher number of apprehensions may result from stricter enforcement rather than from higher migration pressures.’

The CLANDESTINO project investigates not only numbers but the channels through which irregular migrants enter in EU countries. The picture varies in different countries of the EU. As regards Greece, Anna Triandafyllidou, Coordinator of the entire project and Senior Fellow at ELIAMEP, warns: “it is often the inadequate management of legal immigration that produces irregularity. In Greece, restrictive, complicated and lengthy bureaucratic procedures encourage irregular entry and stay.

The informal economy then completes the job. Regular work is hard to fin even for legal migrants, let alone irregular ones. Often legal migrants can only find informal employment which often makes them unable to renew their permit because they cannot prove they have a job, pay taxes and welfare contributions”