The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, on the occasion of 'International Migrants Day' made the following statement:
"On International Migrants Day, we are reminded that migrants are an important part of our daily lives. Migration has helped us grow stronger economically, culturally and socially.
Legal migrants in the European Union have become a significant factor in European societies and our labour markets. Even though at times of economic crisis and of high unemployment levels it is not easy to make the case for migration, we need to find the right approach; we need to ensure that we benefit from the positive impact of migration.
Our biggest challenge is the rise of xenophobia. Fuelled by populists across Europe, the misperceptions created by xenophobic rhetoric are threatening the core values of our societies.
Many Member States are facing labour and skills shortages in key sectors. In this decade alone (2010-2020), the EU's working age population will decline by 15 million. Therefore, we need legal ways for non EU-citizens to come to Europe for work or study. Immigration must become an integral part of a more comprehensive EU-wide approach for addressing labour market and socio-economic challenges in Europe.
Moreover, legal migration and integration policies go hand in hand with our efforts to protect those in need and to address irregular migration. These efforts must safeguard the fundamental rights of migrants, not only in the countries of reception but also in the countries of transit and origin.
The European Commission is determined to create a coherent, comprehensive and effective policy for the common good of Europeans and migrants. This is why this week the Commission announced a European Agenda on Migration as an important element of its Work Programme, which will be one of my top priorities for next year.''