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Brussels, 16 December 2011

Statement by EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on International Migrants Day

"On the occasion of International Migrants Day (Sunday 18 December), let me reiterate that the diversity brought by immigrants is a source of dynamism and of cultural richness for our economies and societies.

Europe is changing. We cannot afford to ignore the role immigration plays for our growth and for European competitiveness in the global arena - Migrants contribute to the economies of their receiving countries, as employees, entrepreneurs, consumers and investors, while increasing the diversity of our societies.

We must also acknowledge the role immigration will play in the future. Our continent is facing a demographic problem - our society is growing older and there are fewer hands to work in many trades. We need to be realistic: if we want to maintain our standard of living in the future, legal migration, offering the skills we need to make Europe prosperous, has to be part of the solution.

Integration is key for making immigration a success. It requires effort and commitment both from the host societies and from the migrants themselves. The objective of granting comparable rights, responsibilities and opportunities for all should be at the heart of our integration policies. There can be no excuse – be it political or economic – for failing to respect the rights of everyone living in Europe.

Unfortunately, as the recent attack against migrants in Italy shows, migrants in the EU are too often targeted by campaigns based on hate and xenophobia. I have on many occasions expressed my concern about xenophobic groups who build their rhetoric on negative opinions about immigrants, creating a hostile environment. Only strong political leadership can help to counter such demagogic and racist propaganda. On the occasion of the International Migrants Day, let me reiterate my call to EU leaders to stand up for diversity and for the importance of having open, democratic and tolerant societies.

For more information

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

EU Immigration Portal:

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