BRUSSELS YESTERDAY called on Europe's 15 member states to turn their backs on 30 years of "zero immigration", embrace racial pluralism and admit a controlled flow of legal immigrants each year.
The European Commission appealed for an end to the "fortress Europe" policy, which has led to huge increases in illegal immigrant trafficking and applications for political asylum.
With European governments already suffering labour shortages in a host of areas, including key high-tech industries, Brussels makes the case for a "pro-active" immigration policy and says governments should immediately start to identify how many foreign workers they will need to import in the future.
Conceding implicitly that its ideas are politically explosive, the commission says in its consultation document that abandoning the present policy "will require strong political leadership and a clear commitment to the promotion of pluralistic societies and a condemnation of racism and xenophobia".
Contrasting the rise in illegal immigration with growing labour shortages in an ageing population, Brussels concludes "there is a growing recognition that the `zero immigration' policies of the past 30 years are no longer appropriate".
The document, issued by the Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Antonio Vitorino, calls on governments to spell out predicted labour market shortages and outline a "medium-term policy for the admission of [non- EU] nationals to fill those gaps".
Tough immigration rules have forced many economic migrants to try other means to enter the EU, including asylum applications, of which there are around 350,000 a year.
This, the document points out, "allows for no adequate response to labour market needs and plays into the hands of the well- organised traffickers and unscrupulous employers". In addition …