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IP/05/16

Strasbourg, 11 January 2005

European Commission launches public debate on economic migration

The European Commission adopted today a Green Paper “On an EU approach to managing economic migration”, presented by the Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, Vice-President Franco Frattini in agreement with Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. The Green Paper aims at stimulating a public debate on the need to develop a comprehensive EU strategy to manage migration for economic reasons. The Commission has sought to launch an in-depth discussion on this issue ever since the Tampere European Council meeting in October 1999. The Green Paper, transmitted to all EU institutions concerned, notably the Economic and Social Committee, will serve as a basis for transparent discussions involving these institutions, as well as civil society, including in particular the social partners, on the most appropriate form of Community rules for admitting economic migrants, while not impinging on the responsibility of Member States to decide on the numbers of immigrants to be admitted. The Commission will organise a hearing on this issue in July 2005, and incorporate the findings of this comprehensive debate in a policy plan on legal migration, as requested by the Hague Programme, for the end of 2005.

Vice-President Franco Frattini, said: “The time has come for choosing a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach and to first hear the views of all relevant actors involved. I am fully aware that Member States, European Parliament, trade unions, employers and other stakeholders have different points of view on this issue as well as different needs”. However, Vice-President Frattini and Commissioner Spidla stressed that these different views need to be reconciled if: “Europe is to have a common comprehensive strategy on economic migration taking account of demographic changes and allowing for better management of migration flows. This will be crucial for achieving the EU’s aim of becoming the most competitive economy, and therefore for the fulfilment of the Lisbon objectives”

Background

The Commission adopted in 2001 a proposal for a Directive dealing with “the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of paid employment and self-employed economic activities” (COM(2001)386), for which there was not sufficient political support by the Council.

In June 2003, the Commission published a Communication on immigration, integration and employment[1] which acknowledged the impact of demographic decline and ageing on the economy and stressed the need to review immigration policies in the longer term.

The importance of the debate on economic migration has also been recognised by the European Council of 4-5 November 2004 (which endorsed The Hague Programme- the new Multi Annual Work Programme in the area of freedom, security and justice): “The European Council, taking into account the outcome of discussions on the Green Paper on labour migration, best practices in Member States and its relevance for implementation of the Lisbon strategy, invites the Commission to present a policy plan on legal migration including admission procedures capable of responding promptly to fluctuating demands for migrant labour in the labour market before the end of 2005.”
Contributions from the relevant stakeholders can be sent to the mailbox:
jls-economic-migration@ec.europa.eu
by 15 April 2005.


[1] COM (2003) 336


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