Announced on several occasions, the publication of a green paper on economic immigration is still missing from the European Commission's work programme for 2012. The executive is apparently hesitant: selling such an initiative to member states during this period of severe economic and financial crisis would not be easy. The question is set to be discussed at a Commission meeting in late January, according to a European source.

Labour needs really exist, however. For example, the Union will need hundreds of thousands of workers in the field of information technologies in 2015 and two million health care workers by 2020. "Without labour migration, we will not be able to keep up our way of life or social security," commented Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom recently.

The green paper, drafted under the responsibility of Commissioner Malmstrom and Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor, is not meant to open up a wide debate on legal migration. Nor does it tackle the issue of so-called peopling migration to help remedy demographic ageing in Europe. It is based strictly on economic arguments with the aim of contributing practical solutions to labour shortages. The questions raised are expected to concern, for example, legislative changes or the use of employment policy instruments (such as the EURES network that facilitates job hunting at European level).

More generally, this initiative seeks to remove legal...

To continue reading