Athens: Legal migration to the European Union will have to increase by 1 million people a year to make up for losses in the bloc’s ageing workforce, the EU’s home affairs chief said on Monday.
Migration to the EU hit about 3.5 million last year with more than 300,000 irregular entries according to EU statistics, but European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said the number of people arriving legally needs to increase.
“Legal migration works very well, but it’s not enough,” she said in a speech during a visit to Athens, adding that the EU workforce is shrinking by 1 million people a year.
“That means that the legal migration should grow more or less by one million per year,” she said adding that this should be done “in an orderly way”.
Johansson also urged countries to crack down on the illegal migration that brings hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe each year from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, often by deadly routes.
Irregular migrant arrivals to the EU are way down from the 2015 peak of more than 1 million, but have steadily crept up from a 2020 low to more than 260,000 last year, with more than half crossing the Mediterranean from Africa, through Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.
The EU last year agreed on news rules to share the cost of hosting migrants more evenly and to limit the number of people coming in using smugglers’ networks.
“We have to avoid those people that use the smugglers often risking their lives with the irregular arrivals. This need to be prevented, ” Johansson said adding that there is a need of “global alliance” to face smugglers networks.