Europe starts migrant trade

Tunisia, January 28, 2030. The phone of the local resettlement and return office rings. On the other end of the phone, a woman speaking English with a strong German accent wants to change the purchase order: 50 more doctors and 100 nurses are needed in addition to those already requested for posting in Germany and the Netherlands. Mohammed does not know yet, but the new order will open the doors of Europe to him. It’s not that he didn’t try: he left the Libyan coast in a boat and landed in Lempedusa, his asylum request was denied, and the Italian authorities sent him to Tunisia. Mohammed did not know this, but his repatriation along with a thousand others had saved the agreement on the subsidized export of Tunisian olive oil to the EU. Now, thanks to another agreement to supply qualified personnel to European hospitals, Mohammed will finally be able to announce that degree of self-sacrifice. “That piece of paper will save your life,” his mother would often tell him.

The story of Muhammad is clearly fabricated. But the future outlined in the lines above is not an extreme dystopia: it is what the Commission and EU governments have been working on concretely in recent weeks. Europe is looking for immigrants. Europe wants to send immigrants back to their countries. Normally, the two statements should describe two different strategies in immigration policies. But in Brussels these lines run parallel and often converge when it comes to the economy, trade and the EU’s next political adjustments. On the one hand, there is a serious labor shortage in Europe and certain skills that states cannot find within themselves. On the other hand, Europe is increasingly uniting to strengthen borders (including internal borders) to curb the flow of illegal immigrants. But let’s go in order.

looking for immigrants

On 18 January, the Commission urged businesses and unions to consider an increasingly serious problem across the continent: staffing shortages in key sectors of the economy. Since Eurostat published statistics on job postings, that is, since 2006, job offers by companies have never been as unanswered as last year: the latest quarterly statement in the euro area speaks of a share of 3.1%, almost triple 17 about a year ago. “As many companies in the EU struggle to find workers with the necessary skills, attracting skilled and talented people from third countries to the EU labor market is high on our agenda,” said Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

Elisa Ferreira, another commissioner for cohesion policy, recently presented a more than alarming report showing that 82 regions of Europe are in a development trap precisely because of the shortage of graduates and educated people. Without it, investments in innovative projects are of little use and risk feeding an old economy doomed to die in the face of the drastic changes of the double ecological and digital transition. Italy is among the countries most affected by this phenomenon, not only in the South, but also, for example, in Piedmont and Liguria. And before long even Veneto could come to terms with it.

job opening

First of all, there are no plumbers, nurses, computer scientists, welders and truck drivers in the EU, as well as technicians and civil engineers, according to the latest report of the European Labor Authority. Various analyzes say that the problem is not temporary, but risks being structural and long-term across the continent: as El Pais writes, “manpower shortages are huge in about thirty occupations, and the European Commission says population (of 27 EU countries, ed) working age, 2070 In Turkey, this rate will drop to 54%”. Translation: more and more workers will be needed from outside the borders of the bloc. Unless businesses close. That’s why Brussels launched a platform that aims to seek these skills outside EU borders and promotes legal immigration with a simplified procedure for obtaining a single permit that combines work and stay (which can be activated directly in a non-EU country). . The proposal did not go unnoticed in the European media. Perhaps this is because many governments (including the most vocal on immigration) have implemented similar measures under pressure from business and industry.

If we don’t want to confuse voters prone to anti-immigrant advertising, we can call them skilled workers. But it’s always about immigrants.

Castle Europe

According to the latest data of Eurostat, Austria is the country with the highest personnel shortage in Europe. Yet the government in Vienna is among those seeking a harder punch from the EU against illegal immigration. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s proposal to build a wall on the Bulgarian-Turkish border this week has sparked controversy. The idea (not new) was rejected by the European Commission, but has the support of a man named Manfred Weber, head of Europe’s main party, the EPP. Ursula von der Leyen also belongs to Ppe, who may have seen an attempt to wink to the new right of Giorgia Meloni and Polish PiS in Weber’s (German, like herself) anti-immigrant position. A political operation that will complicate the election for a second term as EU executive head.

Von der Leyen’s answer was entrusted to a letter he wrote to the bloc’s heads of state and government due to the European summit in February, where the immigration case will be held. In his letter, the Commission leader underlined the importance of developing a series of actions to increase the repatriation of irregular migrants. Among these actions is one of the EU’s most important instruments: trade. Recently, the governments of 27 Member States gave the first approval for the reform of the regulation on the generalized system of preferences, i.e. the rules governing trade relations with developing and less developed third countries. While awaiting reform, the EU added a footnote on immigration: Essentially, if these countries want to continue exporting to Europe by paying subsidized (or zero) taxes, they will have to commit to repatriating their nationals deported from EU countries.

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Less tax on immigrants

Preferential tariffs were created to support the foreign trade and therefore the development of the poorest countries. So far, the regulation provides for preferential tariffs to be stopped if the EU detects a serious human rights violation. EU countries can now seek a similar sanction for African or Asian countries that refuse to welcome their citizens deported from Europe. In addition, the text removes a number of bureaucratic hurdles, making it quicker to stop concessions.

The mechanism has been proposed by the Commission and after the approval of EU governments, all that is required is the approval of the European Parliament. Strasbourg will not be too opposed to the proposal, given the growing political consensus, even among the centre-left, on strengthening repatriation of migrants. For example, Denmark’s socialist government is trying to implement an agreement with Rwanda that provides for the deportation of irregular migrants to the African country in exchange for funding.

According to a report by the European Court of Auditors, 500,000 irregular migrants who find themselves in the EU each year are ordered to leave European territory and return to their country of origin. But only 19% of them “really returned to their countries outside of Europe”. So-called readmission agreements do little. Countries with the largest numbers of non-refunded migrants include Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh and Guinea: all states on the list of beneficiaries of preferential tariffs. Italy and Greece, on the other hand, are among the EU countries that have the greatest difficulty in sending illegal immigrants back to their countries.

Source: Today IT