Expatica news

EU ‘needs migrants, migrants need Europe’

29 January 2004

AMSTERDAM — UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was expected to urge EU member states in a speech to the European Parliament on Thursday to admit entry to more legal immigrants, saying that both foreigners and Europe will accrue benefits.

On the eve of his appearance in the European Parliament, French newspaper Le Monde cited Annan’s speech on Wednesday: “Migrants need Europe, but Europe also needs migrants”.

The UN chief will deliver the speech to European MPs on Thursday when he receives the Sakharov Prize for freedom of expression. The world body is being awarded the prize “in special memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello and many other UN officials who have lost their lives in carrying out their work for peace in the world”.

De Mello, a Brazilian diplomat, was among 23 people killed in a suicide truck-bomb attack on the UN headquarters in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on 19 August 2003.

In accepting the award, Annan is expected to tell EU nations that they need more migrants to combat the problems caused by aging populations.

Without immigration, the population of countries such as Austria, Germany and Greece will decline by 25 percent during the next 50 years. The UN chief is warning against shrinking economies and societal troubles.

Admitting more migrants would not only benefit EU nations, but also assist developing nations, Annan asserts, reminding the EU that foreigners are increasingly sending money back to their families in their country of origin.

In 2002, migrants from the Third World transferred USD 88 million to their nations of origin, about 50 percent more than what they are given in foreign aid, Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

Annan believes that Europe can contribute to the improvement of the economic situation in developing nations and this will in turn benefit the EU, because most asylum seekers leave their homeland because they have no economic future there.

EU member states must quickly devise a joint system of handling asylum seeker requests and thus share the associated costs, he says.

Former Dutch Prime Minister and the present chief of the UN refugee organisation UNCHR, Ruud Lubbers, recently raised a similar proposal, but EU countries have thus far failed to reach an agreement.

Annan is also urging EU nations to work harder on accepting immigrants into the general community: “Integration is two-way traffic. Immigrants must be able to adapt to their new society, but societies should also adjust”.

The speech comes after an OECD report indicated last week that despite the global economic slump, industrialised nations are increasingly welcoming highly-educated expatriate workers, with the US, Germany, Britain and Japan topping demand.

It said record numbers of people are moving to many industrialised nations and that the need for expat workers was structural, rather then cyclical, and lower-educated foreigners were also required.

There was a significant increase in labour-oriented migration of both temporary and permanent workers in the period 2001-02. The trend was noticeable across all employment categories and other categories of admission, such as family unification, refugees and students also continued to grow.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news