The European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, has revealed a concerning projection indicating a steady decline of one million individuals annually in the working-age population within the EU. This revelation emerged during Johansson's visit to Greece, where she emphasized the critical need to bolster legal migration as a countermeasure to address this demographic challenge. In her statement, Johansson underlined the gravity of the situation, stating, "For demographic reasons, the population of working age in the EU will decrease by 1 million per year. That means that legal migration should grow by more or less 1 million per year."
Eurostat estimates further compound these concerns, predicting a shift in the composition of the population aged 65 and older. The percentage is expected to rise from 21.1% in 2022 to 31.3% by the end of the century, indicating a significant demographic shift with implications for the labor force and societal structures.
Highlighting the current labor landscape in Europe, the 2022 EURES report on labor shortages and surpluses revealed that 29 European countries are grappling with labor shortages. Notably, professions in software, healthcare, construction, and engineering crafts are particularly affected, reflecting the challenges faced by various sectors.
During meetings with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Johansson, accompanied by EU Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, acknowledged Greece's positive progress in managing legal migration. This recognition came amidst broader discussions about the imperative of enhancing legal migration pathways to address the looming demographic decline.
In the context of migration-related concerns that have contributed to the rise of far-right and anti-EU sentiments across Europe, Johansson emphasized that the "poison and causing xenophobia and racism" were associated more with illegal migration. Seeking to address citizens' concerns and sentiments, she stated, "I think what our citizens are really asking us is, not how many migrants (are arriving) but if we do this in an orderly way, how we manage it, who is in control or who is coming?"
A demonstration organized by Greek activist groups took place during the Monday meetings, involving survivors of a migrant shipwreck that claimed hundreds of lives last year. The protest aimed to oppose stricter border and maritime policing, asserting that such measures put migrants' lives at greater risk. The demonstration took place near the Ministry of Migration Affairs, where the meetings were held, and although access was blocked by the police, no arrests were reported.
Touching upon recent developments, last month saw European Parliament members (MEPs) and national governments reaching an agreement to reform asylum and migration policy. Commissioner Johansson, commenting on this agreement at the time, asserted that the pact would serve to enhance external border protection, foster increased solidarity, and provide improved protection for asylum seekers in the EU. These efforts collectively reflect a multifaceted response to the challenges posed by demographic shifts and migration dynamics within the European Union.
By fLEXI tEAM