|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.35, 27.9.01, p4|
DEPUTIES in the European Parliament are to sound a note of caution in the debate on immigration, warning that foreign workers will not solve the EU's long-term population crisis.
A report due to be adopted at the full meeting of the assembly in Strasbourg next week will argue that options such as the introduction of a US-style green card for the EU or an end to border restrictions cannot defuse the demographic time bomb which the bloc is facing.
Austrian MEP Hubert Pirker, who drafted the report, admits the EU faces a looming crisis with the working population set to drop over the next decade while the proportion of over 65's is set to increase to almost one in four by 2025.
But he warns that bringing in immigrants will not be an effective method of achieving a balance in demographic needs.
"Experience actually shows that, after a time, immigrants adopt the birth-rate pattern of the host country," he says. When Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner António Vitorino unveiled his policy on community immigration in November last year he stressed that a 'Fortress Europe' mentality was no longer an option. EU governments, he said, must accept some legal migrants to make up a shortfall of skills in key fields, particularly information technology.
Germany launched a green card system for accepting skilled migrants last year and in February European Commission President Romano Prodi urged member states to accept hundreds of thousands of overseas workers with information technology know-how.
Pirker argues that such an approach will only help tackle sectoral labour shortages and declining birth rates in the short term. "In the long term, it cannot counter demographic shifts and solve the problems such as maintenance of social-security schemes," he said.
Deputies in the European Parliament are to sound a note of caution in the debate on immigration, warning that foreign workers will not solve the EU's long-term population crisis.
|Subject Categories||Geography, Justice and Home Affairs|