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Brussels, 18 December 2012
Statement by EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on International Migrants Day
"Migration is part of our past, present and future. It has always been, and always will be a part of what makes Europe, and if looked upon as an opportunity rather than a threat, migration can help us grow stronger – economically, culturally and morally.
I believe we must see immigration as an asset giving an individual the opportunity to improve their life, whilst allowing European countries to strengthen their economies.
Even today, when unemployment is very high, many Member States are facing labour and skills shortages in key sectors. It will not be long until we start to feel the impact of our ageing population and shrinking workforce. The European Union needs a strong and coherent migration policy that responds to these needs. Today, and even more so in the future, migration and mobility are crucial for growth and for Europe's economic recovery.
Immigration is clearly not the only answer, but it is certainly part of a common solution. There have to be more effective legal ways for non EU-citizens to come to Europe to work or to study. And if we want to attract the talents that Europe needs, we have to move fast to keep pace with our global competitors.
We are establishing the basis for such policy: we introduced the 'EU Blue Card' scheme, to attract skilled workers from non-EU countries to live and work in the EU; we are also working to facilitate access for intra-corporate transferees to the EU, as well as introducing fair rules for seasonal workers. I intend to present a proposal to improve the admission to the EU of the best students and researchers from across the globe shortly.
Facilitating labour migration also goes hand in hand with our efforts to prevent vulnerable migrants in irregular situations from exploitation by targeting employers who take advantage of their precarious positions. With our employer sanctions directive we are addressing situations of abuse at the same as we strengthen the rights of the migrants.
But our responsibility does not stop there. We must break through the scepticism about immigration and show political leadership to counter the common misconceptions fuelled by xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Europe should welcome diversity and make migration a dynamic force for growth and progress."