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The EU loses about a million workers per year due to aging. Migration official urges legal options

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January 8, 2024
By The Associated Press

The Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens. Photo: Todd Humber

The European Union’s top official for migration said Monday that member states will have to confront tough policy challenges — even in the current election year – to cope with the continent’s aging population.

Ylva Johansson, the EU home affairs commissioner, said there was a pressing need to shift away from illegal migration and find more legitimate alternatives.

“For demographic reasons, the population of working age in the EU will decrease by 1 million per year. It is decreasing by 1 million per year,” Johansson said on a visit to Greece. “That means that legal migration should grow by more or less 1 million per year. And that is really a challenge.”

The EU Commission is trying to finalize an EU-wide overhaul of migration rules before the end of its term and European Parliament elections in June. A preliminary agreement was reached last month.


According to projections made by the EU statistics agency, Eurostat, the share of the population aged 65 or over will rise from 21.1% in 2022 to 31.3% by the end of the century.

Johansson was joined by the EU Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas in Athens for meetings with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and other officials.

Although concerns over migration have fueled support for far-right and anti-EU parties in many European countries, Johansson argued that the “poison and causing xenophobia and racism” was generated by illegal migration.

“I think what our citizens are really asking us is, not how many migrants (are arriving) but if we do this in an orderly way, how we manage it, who is in control or who is coming?” she said.

During Monday’s meetings, survivors of a migrant shipwreck that killed hundreds last year attended a small demonstration organized by Greek activist groups to protest tougher border and maritime policing which they argue puts migrants’ lives at greater risk.

Police blocked access to the area near the migration affairs ministry where Monday’s meetings took place but made no arrests.

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