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IMMIGRATION

Half of Danish resident permits go to EU citizens

Turks are still the largest group of immigrants in Denmark but Poles and Romanians are the fast-growing groups, according to a new OECD report.

Half of Danish resident permits go to EU citizens
The number of resident permits went up in 2013 after five straight years of decline and half of them went to EU citizens. Photo: Colourbox
An OECD report released on Monday shows that for the first time in over a decade, the EU has fallen behind the US as a destination for immigrants. The study finds that the prolonged economic downturn has tarnished the EU's allure among those looking to improve their lives.
 
“Countries would benefit more from immigration if they consider migrants as a resource rather than a problem, and integration policies as an investment,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, launching the International Migration Outlook 2014 report in Paris.
 
Just over 52,000 migrants settled in Denmark last year, a 20 percent increase over 2012 and an increase of 73 percent since 2007. 
 
The largest group of immigrants in Denmark continues to be persons of Turkish origin, who make up 9.8 percent of all immigrants and their descendants. The next largest groups are Poles (5.8%), Germans (5.1%) and Iraqis (4.9%), while the fasting growing groups are Romanians and Poles. 
 
The number of resident permits granted by Denmark was up in 2013, ending five years of steady decline. Of the 64,600 residence permits granted in 2013, 50 percent went to EU/EEA citizens
 
According to the OECD, nearly 30 percent of Denmark’s foreign-born residents in 2013 are highly-educated, which the organisation says is in line with global trends. The OECD says that the number of highly-educated immigrants has increased by 70 percent since 2000 and that today just over 30 percent of all immigrants to OECD countries are university-educated. 
 
In many cases however those educations are not being put to use in the migrants’ new countries, with the OECD reporting that immigrants are more than 50 percent more likely than natives to be over qualified for their jobs. That gap is even more pronounced in Denmark, where 28 percent of the foreign-born population is overqualified for their jobs, compared to just 11 percent of the native-born population.
 
In absolute terms, Germany is the biggest magnet in Europe for immigrants. During 2013, migration to Germany recorded a double-digit increase to over 450,000 people, its fourth consecutive annual rise. Three-quarters of all immigrants received by Germany are from other EU countries, making the country the second destination in the OECD, after the United States.
 
Overall the largest source country for immigrants was China, with nearly ten percent of all immigrants, followed by Romania (5.6 percent) and Poland (5.4 percent).
 
The number of asylum seekers in the OECD area rose by 20 percent, with most coming from Syria. Per capita, the largest host country for refugees was Sweden.
 
“Migration policies should be a priority for OECD countries, and integration policies should be seen as the best possible investment in terms of growth, social cohesion and well-being,” said Gurria.
 
“The short and long-term costs of standing still in the face of rapidly changing needs are high. Policy makers need to lead an open and informed debate to build confidence and ensure everyone benefits,” he added.

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POLITICS

How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area

European countries agreed on Thursday to push towards a long-stalled reform of the bloc's migration system, urging tighter control of external borders and better burden-sharing when it comes to asylum-seekers.

How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area
European interior ministers met in the northern French city of tourcoing, where president Emmanuel Macron gave a speech. Photo: Yoat Valat/AFP

The EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, speaking after a meeting of European interior ministers, said she welcomed what she saw as new momentum on the issue.

In a reflection of the deep-rooted divisions on the issue, France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin – whose country holds the rotating EU presidency – said the process would be “gradual”, and welcomed what he said was unanimous backing.

EU countries backed a proposal from French President Emmanuel Macron to create a council guiding policy in the Schengen area, the passport-free zone used by most EU countries and some affiliated nations such as Switzerland and Norway.

Schengen council

Speaking before the meeting, Macron said the “Schengen Council” would evaluate how the area was working but would also take joint decisions and facilitate coordination in times of crisis.

“This council can become the face of a strong, protective Europe that is comfortable with controlling its borders and therefore its destiny,” he said.

The first meeting is scheduled to take place on March 3rd in Brussels.

A statement released after the meeting said: “On this occasion, they will establish a set of indicators allowing for real time evaluation of the situation at our borders, and, with an aim to be able to respond to any difficulty, will continue their discussions on implementing new tools for solidarity at the external borders.”

Step by step

The statement also confirmed EU countries agreed to take a step-by-step approach on plans for reforming the EU’s asylum rules.

“The ministers also discussed the issues of asylum and immigration,” it read.

“They expressed their support for the phased approach, step by step, put forward by the French Presidency to make headway on these complex negotiations.

“On this basis, the Council will work over the coming weeks to define a first step of the reform of the European immigration and asylum system, which will fully respect the balance between the requirements of responsibility and solidarity.”

A planned overhaul of EU migration policy has so far foundered on the refusal of countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to accept a sharing out of asylum-seekers across the bloc.

That forces countries on the EU’s outer southern rim – Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain – to take responsibility for handling irregular migrants, many of whom are intent on making their way to Europe’s wealthier northern nations.

France is pushing for member states to commit to reinforcing the EU’s external borders by recording the details of every foreign arrival and improving vetting procedures.

It also wants recalcitrant EU countries to financially help out the ones on the frontline of migration flows if they do not take in asylum-seekers themselves.

Johansson was critical of the fact that, last year, “45,000 irregular arrivals” were not entered into the common Eurodac database containing the fingerprints of migrants and asylum-seekers.

Earlier, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser suggested her country, France and others could form a “coalition of the willing” to take in asylum-seekers even if no bloc-wide agreement was struck to share them across member states.

She noted that Macron spoke of a dozen countries in that grouping, but added that was probably “very optimistic”.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, hailed what he said was “a less negative atmosphere” in Thursday’s meeting compared to previous talks.

But he cautioned that “we cannot let a few countries do their EU duty… while others look away”.

France is now working on reconciling positions with the aim of presenting propositions at a March 3rd meeting on European affairs.

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