European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has been criticised by MEPs for claiming the European Union “needs a million migrants a year”.
Johansson, the chief Commissioner responsible for migration, made the comment during a meeting in Athens with members of the Greek Government.
She said the numbers were needed to address growing labour shortages in Europe.
Speaking to Brussels Signal, right-wing MEPs were outraged at the suggestion.
“Europe doesn’t need more immigrants,” said Maximillian Krah, an MEP who will lead the national-populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the 2024 European elections.
“What we need are good policies and honest politicians. Ms Johansson provides neither of those.”
Johansson said that since the EU workforce is shrinking by around a million people a year, due to a low birth rate and an ageing population, “[current] legal migration … is not enough”.
“That means that the legal migration should grow more or less by one million per year.”
Tom Vandendriessche, an MEP for the hard-right Vlaams Belang party, told Brussels Signal that statement amounted to the EC admitting “it wants to ‘replace’ the population of Europe”.
Johansson, like several other EU politicians, claimed migration was needed to sustain the EU economy.
She said the real issue was not immigration per se but illegal migration – adding it was people-smuggling and “irregular arrivals … [that] need to be prevented”.
Such claims are coming under scrutiny; a recent Dutch academic study has shown that the Netherlands is, on average, spending €17 billion per year on migration.
“The majority of [recent] migrants … have so far not been integrated into the labour market,” said Krah. “Why import more?”
His sentiments were echoed by Vandendriessche, who said mass migration “is in many cases a net cost for the receiving countries … there is no economic benefit, no social benefit and certainly no cultural benefit”.
The European Parliament and European Council are in a race to approve the EU Migration and Asylum Pact before June’s European elections, but it may be a more uphill battle than expected. https://t.co/Ta8sPLvIpB
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) January 5, 2024
These statements add to suggestions that the EU’s new Migration Pact might be in trouble.
The Pact, which is a combination of legislation seeking to create an EU-level policy for dealing with mass migration, recently passed inter-institutional negotiations with a “breakthrough” compromise.
It still needs approval from the European Parliament and from Member States before it becomes official.
Many on the Parliament’s Right and the Left have signalled their opposition to it.
Poland’s newly-installed Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he would continue the previous government’s opposition to Pact on the grounds that parts of it amount to “mandatory relocation”.
For Vandendriessche, “the crux of the Migration Pact” amounts to “transforming illegal migration into legal migration and permanently opening the floodgates”.
With mass migration being a central issue across the continent, the upcoming EU elections will likely only escalate fierce debate over the issue.
Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said his Government will not accept the forced migrant-relocation mechanism proposed by the European Union. https://t.co/AAQZJKpwid
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) January 4, 2024