Commission issues Communication on immigration, integration and employment

In June 2003, the European Commission launched a Communication dealing with the issue of immigration in an employment context. It states that more must be done to integrate existing immigrants and facilitate future immigration, in order to fill EU skills and employment gaps in the future.

On 3 June 2003, the European Commission presented a new Communication (COM (2203) 336 final)) on immigration, integration and employment. The Communication reviews integration policies, at both national and EU level, and then goes on to suggest ways in which integration of immigrants could be promoted. It also looks at the potential impact which immigrants are likely to have on employment and economic growth, in the context of the ageing European workforce.

The Communication, presented jointly by the employment and social affairs Commissioner, Anna Diamantopoulou and the justice and home affairs Commissioner, Antonio Vitorino, states that labour migration into the EU will, in the coming years, become increasingly necessary in order to fill employment shortages and skills gaps. The EU working-age population is predicted to shrink after 2010 and the Communication stresses that, while immigration into the EU alone will not solve all the problems created by an ageing workforce, sustained flows are likely to be necessary to meet the future needs of the EU labour market.

With this in mind, the Communication goes on to state that more needs to be done both in terms of promoting the integration of established immigrants and preparing for future immigration. In particular, it notes that the needs of migrants should be taken fully into account in mainstream policies which have an impact on the integration of migrants. It also calls for new initiatives in areas such as employment, anti-discrimination and social inclusion. Key issues which need to be addressed include language, education and training and access to social services and other services.

The Commission advocates the setting up of a new framework at EU level to focus attention on issues surrounding migration and to encourage the exchange of information and experience in this area. It proposes a range of actions to be undertaken, including the inclusion of new priorities in this area in the European Employment Strategy and the EU social inclusion process. It also makes a commitment to drawing up an annual report on the development of a common immigration policy.

This Communication is a response to the October 1999 European Council, held in Tampere, Finland, which called for a series of policy papers on a common immigration policy for the EU (EU9910202F). It also takes into account developments since the 1999 Council, such as the launch, in March 2000 (EU0004241F), of the 'Lisbon strategy' of EU economic and social development. The role which immigrants play in this strategy was highlighted in the Commission’s report to the 2003 spring European Council, held in Brussels in March 2003 (EU0304205F).

Launching the Communication, Commissioner Diamantopoulou said: 'Zero immigration is not an option. Increased immigration flows are inevitable as a result of "push" factors such as political instability in the world or welfare differentials. But properly managed immigration will also be necessary in order to meet the future needs of the European labour market. In order to make immigration a success – not least for current EU citizens – European must achieve radically better integration of immigrants already based in the EU and prepare now for future immigration.'

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