1st Oct 2023


Illegal migration is a serious problem but legal migration can help Europe

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Migration is a hot topic that is currently extremely debated in Europe. However, it is essential to clearly distinguish between illegal and legal migration. Illegal migration is a source of many problems for Europe. Non-adequate control of migrants coming to Europe can pose a threat to the security of all of us. Not to mention the fact that Europe has not been very successful in returning illegal migrants to their countries. On the contrary, legal migration sets up with clear rules and can be beneficial for Europe.

The commission's ambitious proposal

Migration control could be primarily under a national responsibility and it should be unchanged. However, common rules for legal migration at the European level can be a significant asset. In October 2021, the Council adopted the Blue Card Directive. These new rules harmonise the conditions for entry and residence of highly skilled workers from third countries and increase the attractiveness of the EU Blue Card.

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The aim is to attract and retain highly skilled workers in sectors facing skills shortages by making admission criteria more inclusive, facilitating mobility within the EU, and making access to the labour market easier.

Last year, at the end of April, the European Commission came up with further proposals to make legal migration much easier and more efficient. Given that there are labour shortages in many sectors, the measures should benefit the EU economy, strengthen cooperation with third countries, and, in the long term, could help to improve the management of migration to Europe.

Main tasks for the EU

The key element would be the modification of the single permit to combine a work permit with a residence permit. Everything should be streamlined to make the whole process as quick and straightforward as possible for applicants and employers. In practice, this would mean, for example, that it would be possible to apply for a single permit not only in EU member states but also in third countries.

A second very important element would be to simplify the granting of long-term residence. In addition, people with long-term resident status and their families would have enhanced rights.

How to attract talents

The package presented by the commission is, in some ways, too ambitious. However, the overall idea is a step in the right direction, provided that it involves skilled workers in professions that are currently facing a shortage of workers. The EU's so-called talent pool aims to attract talented and skilled workers from third countries, which can significantly help the European economy.

Although the new package is not directly related to the current refugee wave, it may facilitate the integration of Ukrainians in the future, which would undoubtedly be a big advantage not only for the Czech Republic, which has the most significant number of Ukrainian refugees per population.

The general simplification of conditions for legal labour migration can be seen as a potentially huge benefit, especially for workers in areas such as information technology, research, and health. Legal migration associated with skilled jobs is thus crucial to our economic recovery and Europe can ultimately benefit from it. Moreover, if the conditions for legal migration are well set, this is one (though not the only) way to curb illegal migration.

Author bio

Tomáš Zdechovský MEP, EPP Group in the EP, Czech Republic, member of the EMPL committee.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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