BUREAUCRATS are planning to encourage more new migrants to come to the EU despite rising levels of unemployment, it emerged last night.
Brussels officials are to simplify entry rules for workers heading to Europe to take up temporary seasonal jobs in farming, tourism and other industries.
EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said: “We need immigrant workers in order to secure our economic survival.”
She claimed more were needed to fill “labour shortages”.
But her remarks are bound to provoke new concerns that Eurocrats are determined to press for ever higher levels of immigration.
Last night, Home Office insiders insisted Britain would refuse to sign up to the latest overhaul of EU border controls.
Mrs Malmstrom said: “We know unemployment rates are still very high in Europe. Paradoxically, at the same time there are labour shortages.” She plans to speed up procedures for hiring managers, specialists and seasonal workers from outside the 27 EU member states.
The EU lacks workers in certain sectors even though average unemployment is at 10 per cent, up from seven per cent before the crisis, commission officials said. Mrs Malmstrom–responsible for migration policies–has said the EU will continue to need extra workers in the next few years even though slower economic growth is putting pressure on some EU governments to curb the number of immigrants.
An ageing population and low birth rates mean that migrant labour will be necessary to help EU growth in the long term.
Mrs Malmstrom said: “In light of the demographic challenge the EU is facing, where our active population is forecasted to start falling already in 2013, we need immigrant workers in order to secure our economic survival.
“I will continue to take more steps towards a more inclusive labour migration policy for the EU in the coming years.”
Under the proposals, which have to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament, companies will be able to bring seasonal workers into the EU more quickly to address changing needs.
Officials insist the measures are aimed at tackling the growing problem of illegal migrants working in a black economy. Thousands, many from Africa, are hired each year to do jobs such as harvesting tomatoes in Italy.
But critics of mass immigration insist that unemployed native workers should be encouraged–or forced through benefit cuts–to take up the work. The new rules would force employers to prove they provide accommodation and set up a complaints mechanism.
And companies would benefit from simplified application procedures when bringing managers and specialists into EU branches of international corporations.
A spokesman for Mrs Malmstrom said last night: “It is up to each member state to decide whether they need more seasonal workers and how many they should take. If they don’t need more seasonal workers, of course that is their choice.”