• German Labour Chief Says Germany Needs 400,000...

    German Labour Chief Says Germany Needs 400,000 Skilled Immigrants Yearly to Tackle Skilled Workers’ Shortage

    The Head of the Federal Employment Agency, Detlef Scheele, said that Germany needs 400,000 new workers per year to fill the labour market, which can be possible by admitting more immigrants to the country, meaning that Germany’s economy is currently dependent on immigration.

    According to Scheele’s interview for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany needs more skilled workers since it is running out of them. He further explained that the number of workers of typical professional age would drop by almost 150,000 this year, predicting that the situation will worsen in the next few years.

    He finds Germany’s ageing population responsible for the situation, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

    “We need 400,000 immigrants a year. In other words, significantly more than in previous years. From care and air conditioning to logisticians and academics – there will be a shortage of skilled workers everywhere,” Scheele said for SZ.

    He further said that Germany needs to do its part regarding Afghanistan’s crisis and shelter refugees. However, he noted that he isn’t interested in the asylum but in targeted migration which could fill out the market gaps so Germany can keep its prosperous economy.

    “Germany can only solve the problem by qualifying unskilled workers and people whose jobs have been lost due to technical change– and above all by bringing immigrants into the country,” Scheele said.

    He also urged to let female part-time workers work longer, referring to involuntary work, which includes workers who want to work longer but cannot find such positions.

    On the other hand, Rene Springer, a member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) political group, criticised Scheele and accused him of being a “mouthpiece for companies that want to push down wages further.”

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    Konstantin Kuhle, a member of parliament from the Free Democrats (FDP) party, agreed with Scheele and pointed out that without immigration, Germany’s growth and prosperity are at risk.

    The Federal Statistical Office data reveals that net immigration to Germany in 2020 was 209,000, recording the first time Germany’s population has stagnated in almost ten years. This phenomenon is likely to be affected by the Coronavirus pandemic travel bans.

    In order to deal with the problem of its ageing population and the lack of skilled workers to fill in essential positions, Germany had introduced the German Skilled Immigration Act in March 2020 in a bid to facilitate the visa issuance procedures for those wanting to work in Germany.

    According to this Act, workers need to have their foreign qualifications recognised by the German authorities or have ensured a job or contract in Germany in their field of professionalism.

    In the first year of the Act, the Western Balkan countries were the ones to benefit the most from the German skilled immigration program in 2020, with 30,200 visas being granted to workers worldwide, out of which 2,024 to Serb workers, 1,159 to Bosnians, 792 to Kosovans, and 778 to Albanians.

    Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), had, however, been disappointed with the numbers, pointing fingers at the travel restrictions imposed amid COVID-19 as the real cause behind the low number of third-country nationals who benefited from the Act.

    >> Germany Has Issued Over 50,000 Visas Through the Skilled Workers Immigration Act So Far

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  • Portugal “needs immigrants”

    Portugal "needs immigrants"

    The Home Office has stated that legal migration to Portugal is “a priority”.

    The Minister of Internal Administration (MAI) said that in the coming decades Portugal should focus on “legal, safe and orderly migration mechanisms” so that the rights to health, housing and work are guaranteed.

    “Portugal is a country, according to the latest censuses, that is marked by aging, it needs immigrants. Therefore, it must privilege mechanisms for legal, safe and orderly migration as a way to guarantee respect for human rights in such different domains, as the right to health, adequate housing and the right to a fair employment relationship”, said Eduardo Cabrita, at the session of opening of the international conference on Forced Returns and Human Rights, organised by the General Inspectorate of Internal Administration (IGAI).

    Cabrita maintained that legal migration is “a priority” that forces Portugal “to be inflexible in what is the management of common European borders and the fight against criminal phenomena that thrive on extreme human fragility”.

    In this sense, he stated that human trafficking must be “combated at a national level and in articulation at European level”, highlighting the new mandate of the European border control agency Frontex, the “first European force with its own operational means” and which should have up to 10,000 staff by 2027.


    Eduardo Cabrita also said that Europe must “look at managing migratory flows in a coordinated, coherent and above all prepared way”, taking into account the humanitarian dimension of recent events in Afghanistan.

    At the conference, the minister highlighted the changes registered in Portugal, which in recent decades has become “a country that receives foreign citizens from multiple origins”.

    “Portugal, which 30 years ago had less than 100,000 foreign citizens, reached, even in times of pandemic, around 680,000 foreign citizens legally residing by the end of 2020”, he stressed.

    According to Eduardo Cabrita, more than half a million foreign citizens have acquired Portuguese nationality since 2007, when the nationality law underwent significant changes.

    “Since then, the number of acquisitions of Portuguese nationality has gone from around 5,000 a year to more than 50,000 a year”, he said, stressing that the returns to the countries of origin of migrants who arrive in Portugal in an irregular manner must be made with “respect for human dignity”.

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  • Losing steam, Polish government plays immigration card

    Losing steam, Polish government plays immigration card

    As it loses steam in the polls, Poland’s right-wing populist government is playing the anti-immigration card that helped it win in 2015, hoping to take back the political initiative, analysts said.

    Thousands of migrants — most of them from the Middle East — have crossed from Belarus into eastern EU states, including Poland, in recent months.

    The EU suspects the influx is engineered by the Belarusian regime in retaliation against increasingly stringent EU sanctions, with Poland the Baltic states calling it a “hybrid attack”.

    Political attention in Poland in recent weeks has focused on a group of around 30 migrants camped out on the border between Poland and Belarus.

    Poland is refusing to let in the migrants, said to be Afghans by a charity trying to help them, or give them aid without the consent of Belarus.

    “It cannot be ruled out that there will be early elections next year… and it is by no means certain that the Law and Justice (PiS) party will win a majority or manage to piece together a coalition,” said Agata Szczesniak, a political analyst for the news portal OKO.press.

    The government lost its formal parliamentary majority earlier this month after the departure of a junior coalition partner.

    A recent poll by Kantar also found that PiS had fallen by three points in the polls and is now neck-and-neck with the main opposition grouping, Civic Platform, at 26%.

    “To go back up in the polls, PiS is trying to replay what happened in 2015 but even more so. It is focusing public emotion around the image and rhetoric of a war” against migrants, Szczesniak said.

    During Europe’s migration crisis of 2015, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński scored electoral points in parliamentary elections that year with his anti-immigration rhetoric, including warnings about the diseases and “all sorts of parasites” that the migrants might bring with them.

    ‘Holy Polish territory’

    The government has remained intransigent over the migrants on the border even after multiple appeals from the UN refugee agency, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

    Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said he is protecting “holy Polish territory”.

    Dressed in military-style wear, he has visited the border to announce the building of a fence.

    Culture Minister Piotr Glinski has promised to “defend Poland against migrants” and Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has sent 2,000 soldiers to the border.

    “What is happening at the border is political gold” for the government, said former EU chief Donald Tusk, now head of Civic Platform.

    Adam Szostkiewicz, a political commentator for the weekly Polityka, said the government was “building its election campaign around this”.

    But analysts pointed out that public feeling around the issue has changed in recent years.

    Many Poles sympathise with Afghans and are growing used to higher levels of immigration in the country, particularly of Ukrainians and Belarusians.

    “At the time, around 70% of Poles said they were opposed to letting in refugees. Today, it is 55%,” said Szczesniak.


    The government may also be sending a mixed message.

    In recent days, it has also evacuated almost 1,000 Afghans who worked for Poland’s military contingent.

    “On the one hand, the PiS is helping Afghans and on the other it is rejecting them. This creates confusion,” said Szczesniak.

    Szostkiewicz said the fact that the crisis could be orchestrated by Minsk “does not justify the lack of basic empathy… and Poles can see that”.

    The situation of the group blocked at the border has also prompted pleas from Poland’s Catholic Church, which is traditionally close to the current government.

    Poland’s leading Catholic clergyman, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, has appealed for political leaders “to be guided above all by the spirit of hospitality, respect for new arrivals and goodwill”.



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