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Europe must relax its immigration controls and open the door to an extra 20 million workers during the next two decades, the European Union’s justice chief will say on Friday.
Franco Frattini, justice commissioner, is to tell the bloc’s immigration ministers in Lisbon that the EU should stop erecting barriers and instead build safe pathways for Africans and Asians who risk their lives heading to the continent to find a job.
“We have to look at immigration not as a threat but — when well-managed, and that is our new task — as an enrichment and as an inescapable phenomenon of today’s world,” he will say.
“Europe has to compete against Australia, Canada, the USA and the rising powers in Asia.” He will suggest the word immigration and its “dark side” should be dropped in favour of “mobility.”
Next month Mr Frattini is to propose an EU “blue card” to compete with the US green card. Skilled workers could apply for two-year residency that could be extended. After five consecutive years living in any number of EU countries they would be allowed to stay permanently.
He is to table a law laying out minimum working standards for unskilled migrants and forming a one-stop shop for them to apply for work permits.
The Commission is about to establish a €10m information centre for Mali. Locals will be able to apply for jobs in Spain and France through a deal signed between the countries. It will be the first of several such centres in Africa.
The “reforms” could lead to a more than doubling of the EU’s foreign-born population by 2030. So he will also stress the importance of finding jobs for indigenous workers and cracking down on illegal immigration.
(Posted on September 13, 2007)