Introducing PREMIUM_EU: A new project to prevent brain drain in Europe

2023 September 19

Can research and AI-generated policies counter migration trends that tend to harm vulnerable regions? A new project kicks-off an ambitious attempt to find out.

People are no longer bound to their birthplaces and are instead choosing to move to other parts of the world in search of better opportunities. In Europe, this has led to a phenomenon known as brain drain, where highly skilled workers leave their home regions in search of better jobs and quality of life. This has left behind areas of Europe that are struggling to maintain their population and attract new talent.

PREMIUM_EU is a project that seeks to enlighten and find alternative ways to turn this imbalance around.

Why study migration’s effect on remote regions?

Migration is a contentious issue in many parts of Europe, and policies that are seen as too favorable to migrants often face opposition from local communities. Shifts in labour sectors, housing shortages, integration tensions. These are some of many concerns receiving countries have about migrant flows.

On the other hand, many remote regions face the opposite reality. People are moving and no migrants are arriving to replace them. When highly skilled workers migrate out of a region this can have negative impacts on the economy and social fabric of the region. Loss of talent and expertise combined with an aging population leaves communities in crisis.

PREMIUM_EU is built on the premise that spatial mobility, or the ability of people to move freely between different regions, can offer new opportunities to both sending and receiving regions. Europe’s population would shrink dramatically without migration. This project seeks to identify the positive effects of migration that are often overlooked.



The lengthy acronym outlines the goal concisely: “Policy REcommendations to Maximise the beneficial Impact of Unexplored Mobilities in and beyond the European Union”.

There are three research milestones that come together to achieve the main goal, which is a regional policy dashboard. A palette of concrete policy actions that European regions can choose from.

First, PREMIUM_EU sets out to explore why people move, where they move, and what makes them stay and settle. The opening milestone, the Mobility Module, will collect unique data from social media to help us gain insight into key drivers of migration flows.

Second, a closer look at the regions. Both the regions which people move away from and the ones they flock to.  The Regional Development Effects Module will identify the spatial effects of mobility on the economic, social, and environmental conditions of both sending and receiving regions.

Finally, an evidence-based palette of feasible regional policy alternatives for turning the individual benefits of mobility into societal benefits. The Regional Policy Module and Dashboard helps policymakers design policies that benefit both migrants and host communities, promoting inclusive and sustainable regional development.

Flows of non-European migrants have been a significant factor in the European migration story and are already helping to fill in demographic gaps in Europe’s most remote areas. PREMIUM_EU will also take on the crucial aspect of integration and create policies that will make it easier for non-European migrants to enter the European labour market and society in general. This is will in turn create a more diverse and inclusive society.

Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, PREMIUM_EU recognizes that regional differences can play a crucial role in the success or failure of migration policies. By working closely with local stakeholders and policymakers, PREMIUM_EU hopes to develop policies that are tailored to the unique needs of each region.


How PREMIUM_EU works

Led by Leo Van Wissen, Senior Researcher and former director of Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, the project is funded by EU Horizon with a lifespan of three years. The project involves a consortium of ten partners from nine countries (see full list at the bottom of the page). Universities and research institutions from across and outside of Europe, which ensures that the project is able to draw on a diverse range of expertise.

To achieve its goals, PREMIUM_EU employs a multidisciplinary approach that combines social and economic analysis, stakeholder engagement, and policy development. The project uses a range of research methods, including quantitative and qualitative analysis, case studies, and policy analysis.


Collaboration and communication

The progress of the PREMIUM project will depend on effective collaboration and communication between policymakers, local communities, and other stakeholders. The project brings together experts from various fields, mostly geography, demography, and economics. The project will also involve extensive consultation with local policy makers to ensure that policies are tailored to their specific needs.

Ultimately, the success of PREMIUM will depend on its ability to create policies that are effective, sustainable, and responsive to the changing needs of regions in Europe. By harnessing the benefits of migration, we can create a more vibrant, diverse, and prosperous Europe for all.


This article is written by Anne Katrine Ebbesen and was originally published on Nordregio's website.