The EU is eager to attract high-skilled immigrants from outside its borders in order to fill its demographic, labour and skills gaps. But experts and politicians warn that the conditions must be right.
In the future, the EU will be facing a number of interlinked challenges, according to official projections:
As a result of demograpic changes, there will be one retired person for every two workers as early as 2050, questioning the sustainability of retirement schemes.
As employment rates rise, it is getting harder to match Europe's growing demand for high-skilled labour with an overall receding supply of specialists, especially in the technology field.
Emerging economies like China and India are training more technicians and engineers than Europe, which may as a result soon assert its position as a worldwide innovation leader.
Countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland manage to attract the lion's share of the world's specialists willing to migrate, including many people trained in the EU. According to figures presented by Commissioner Frattini in the European Parliament, 85% of unskilled labour migration goes to the EU and 5% to the US, whereas 55% of skilled labour goes to the US and only 5% to the EU. According to figures cited by researcher Heike Pethe , high-skilled workers made up for less than 3% of total immigration to Germany in 2000-2003.