Across the EU, several countries are also demanding the lifting of quotas on immigrants with certain skills, especially in financial, IT and science sectors. Last month British business leaders warned that a cap on the number of immigrants from outside the EU was causing problems for companies trying to recruit the best international talent. The EC has also made clear the 27-nation’s bloc need for more skilled workers and believes a proposed “Blue Card” scheme will alleviate the problem.
However even many economists say individual countries must be wary of satisfying business ahead of its national interest.
First societies must become strong enough to cope with newcomers, according to Hugo Brady, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, a think tank that focuses on the EU. “It’s disingenuous to say business needs migrants and we’re all getting older so it’ll all be fine. It skips over the fact that it doesn’t follow that we can solve our demographic problems with lots of immigration.
“And it ignores the fact that our societies need to be set up for that. I’d be sceptical that societies could absorb immigration on the scale suggested by our demographics.
“The nub of the entire issue is whether Swedish society, for instance, is strong and confident enough, as the United States is, to absorb large numbers of newcomers.
“What we have here in Europe is a very high quality of life which is protected and guarded. But unfortunately a large welfare state and conservative societies don’t really lend themselves to large numbers of people coming and going.
“To a certain extent it’s illusory that countries can control immigration: really it can only be sensibly managed, but nothing controls immigration numbers like the economy,” Brady said, adding that global migration had fallen during the recession.
The EU Blue Card
Posted on November 30, 2010