EU plans migrant work permit relaunch, funding for Africa

German Development Minister Gerd Müller hopes to encourage better working conditions and wages for textile workers in developing countries. [ILO/Aaron Santos]

The European Union will present proposals on Tuesday to relaunch a little-used work permit
scheme, similar to the US Green Card, as part of efforts to curb irregular migration to the 28-nation bloc, officials said yesterday (6 June).

The weekly meeting of the executive European Commission will also flesh out plans to offer funding for African countries in ways intended to reduce incentives for their citizens to emigrate to Europe.

EU officials concede that the Blue Card system – launched in 2012 to attract skilled, high-paid workers to help replenish the labour force on an ageing continent with low birth rates – has failed to flourish. In 2014, most recent data show, only 13,852 such permits to work in most EU states were granted, 87% of them by Germany.

Divided Parliament approves EU Blue Card system

Despite divisions among political groups, the European Parliament yesterday backed the EU’s ‘Blue Card’ scheme aimed at attracting high-skilled immigrants to Europe.

Deaths in the Mediterranean and chaos across borders in the past year as more than a million refugees and economic migrants reached Europe have, however, seen a renewal of interest in the EU in offering ways for people to enter the bloc legally.

But many voters are unwilling to see greater immigration and the Blue Card scheme is unlikely to apply to a large proportion of people who would otherwise seek asylum. African governments have also voiced concerns in the past that European states might encourage a “brain drain” of their best-trained workers.

Commission on collision course with member states on migration

The Commission put forward its first concrete proposals today (27 May) following the terrible loss of life in the Mediterranean last month. They include the relocation of 40,000 people from Italy and Greece to other EU countries, as well as the resettlement of 20,000 from outside the EU to member countries.

Tuesday’s proposals will also build on commitments made by EU leaders to African counterparts at a summit in Valletta in November to target investment at regions and problems that may have a particular effect in limiting emigration to Europe.

EU seeks deal with Africa to stem migrant flows

EU leaders hope Thursday (12 November) to clinch an aid-for-cooperation deal with their African partners to tackle an unprecedented migration crisis and rebuff fears a “fortress” Europe is emerging.

At Valletta, the Commission set aside €1.8 billion from existing EU budgets for an Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The Commission hopes to use the modest capital to draw in more money from public and private sources.

EU's migration cash for Africa falls short

The European Union’s efforts to stem the flow of refugees from Africa was undermined today (12 November) by member states who failed to match EU money for a €1.8 billion trust fund to the tune of €1.72 billion, raising just €78 million.

While attention has been focused on the arrivals of hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, European leaders are quietly more concerned about the long-term outlook for massive
migration from the world’s poorest continent and are looking at a range of measures to try to limit movement in years to come.

They have made clear their impatience with African governments that receive significant aid from Europe but which are reluctant to take back their own citizens detained on EU borders and are looking for ways to speed such deportations.

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