08 Feb 2007

Legal Immigration: Time for Europe to Play its Hand

Stefano Bertozzi

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The European Commission has recently rekindled the debate about a possible future ruling on economic immigration, including the conditions and procedures for entry and residence, the principle of Community preference and the rights of third-country workers.
The purpose of this paper is to recapitulate the main phases of Community action in the area of legal migration for economic reasons, starting with the political mandate given to the European Commission by the Tampere European Council. It moves on to outline the EU’s current legislative programme to introduce policy instruments in 2007–09 for regulating the migration of specific categories of workers, some of which are aimed at easing the entry of highly skilled workers. It underscores the case for cohesive EU action in this controversial area in view of the need to improve the economic competitiveness of the EU and the risks posed by its ageing population.