thursday, 7 november of 2019


France to limit number of immigrant workers from outside the EU, in measure long sought by right-wing parties

France will for the first time set quotas for the number of immigrant workers from outside the European Union it allows into the country, French Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud said on Tuesday, a measure long sought by the country’s right-wing parties.

Speaking on French TV channel BFM TV, the minister said these quotas would be set next summer, adding the government would draw up a list of relevant professions to be covered by the quotas.

"Our priority is to help the French return to the job market. Then it is to welcome the refugees and enable them to find a job," Penicaud said.

"If there is still a need, for the benefit of the country and that of the companies, we will bring in the people we need, depending on their profession and their qualification."

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said last month he was not opposed to introducing quotas for migrants, part of an effort by his government to heed voters’ concerns about immigration that are being seized upon by far-right political rivals.

Other measures to be unveiled by Edouard Philippe, the prime minister, today include suspending health care for asylum seekers and illegal immigrants for their first three months in the country.

The government also says it wants to stamp out "health tourism", particularly from Albanians and Georgians, who don’t need visas for the Schengen passport-free zone. "Lots come to get healthcare. They know it’s free," a ministerial source told Le Monde.

Many French people feel there are too many foreigners in the country, which received a record 122,743 asylum requests last year, up 22 per cent from the year before, while most EU members saw a drop in numbers.

Currently, employers have to justify why a French citizen cannot be hired in an arcane process, which resulted in around 33,000 economic migrants being granted visas last year. Its list of sectors lacking national candidates has not been updated since 2008.

While France’s unemployment remains at 8.5 per cent, there are shortages of people willing to accept low-paid work in construction, hotels and restaurants, and some retail sectors. There is also a dearth of qualified national candidates in areas from the IT and engineering industries to vets.

French conservatives tentatively welcomed the quota plan. "It’s an idea we have defended for many years, so I won’t say it’s a bad idea," said Aurelien Pradie of the conservative party, The Republicans.

Critics say the professional quota system is pointless as economic migrants only represented a tiny slice of the 256,000 people handed legal stay permits last year. Olivier Faure, head of the Socialist Party, said the measures were "politically cynical, scandalous on a humanitarian level and reckless in terms of public health".

The government, closely allied to centrist President Emmanuel Macron, is walking a political tightrope because it is under pressure too from its own supporters who oppose any measures they view as pandering to the far-right.

(Published by Daoly Telegraph and National Post, November 6, 2019)

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