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S&D Group: Legal migration has been ignored by the European Commission for far too long


28 Apr 2022


Justice & Home Affairs

After years of highlighting the benefits of migration to European societies, the S&D MEPs today welcomed the Commission’s long-awaited package on legal migration to improve the rights and opportunities for people seeking work in the EU.

For the S&D Group, it is clear the EU needs migration and needs more legal migration channels to respond to skills shortages in the future. By giving migrants that choose to come and work in Europe more rights and more opportunities to integrate, the Commission’s proposals will help close the skills shortages gap across EU labour markets, while at the same time ending the exploitation of migrant workers and benefitting EU societies. However, the S&D Group believes the EU needs to be even more ambitious in addressing the need for migrant workers in the EU with all levels of skills.  

Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson on home affairs, said:

“Legal migration has been ignored by the Commission for far too long. The Migration and Asylum Pact brought promises on legal migration without concrete proposals. Today’s package from the European Commission will help reduce barriers to legal migration and so it marks a step in the right direction. Under the new measures, it is good that migrant workers will be able to move around the EU and it will still count as part of the 5 year period needed to obtain long term residency. There will also be a single procedure for work and resident permits which will make it much easier for people to make the most of job opportunities in other Member States. Legal migration is good news for workers’ rights, good news for Europe’s labour markets and good news for the fight against exploitation. Our job is to work with these proposals to strengthen the rights and protections for non-EU workers even further and to make sure that governments in the Council are as convinced as we are about the added value of migration in the EU. However, the proposals presented today fall well short of the demands the Parliament has made in this legislative period. We have repeatedly encouraged the Commission to present a very ambitious reform that goes beyond targeted updates of two directives. It is highly unfortunate that the von der Leyen Commission does not seem to share this ambition and only presents very cautious changes in such an essential policy area.”

Javier Moreno Sanchez, S&D MEP on the justice and home affairs committee, said:

“Last year, the EU made an important step forward on legal migration by adopting the new Blue Card Directive which creates more legal pathways for skilled migrants into Europe. We were happy to see the EU moving in the right direction and acknowledging that legal migration delivers for Europe. Today’s package of proposals does bring some good news. More rights and protection for workers, such as the right to change employer in a Member State or the right to move to another EU country without disrupting the eligibility period for long-term residence, will help tackle the exploitation of migrant workers in EU. However, the pandemic in particular highlighted the enormous contribution that workers, especially lower-paid workers, make to our society every day. In this respect, we hoped to see a stronger message from the Commission that it is not just the highly-skilled worker that is welcome in Europe. We still need more legal ways for people from all skillsets to come to the EU to put an end to the unsafe and deadly routes that many people find themselves taking.”