Discussion with EU Commissioner focuses on the role of third country nationals in responding to COVID-19 pandemic and contributing to post-crisis economic recovery
On 5 May 2020, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, held an online discussion with representatives of business, employers, trade unions & NGOs working with migrants from non-EU countries. This discussion focused on the essential role that third country nationals are playing in the context of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the EU Member States, and also on the role that migrants from outside the EU can play in terms of contributing to the recovery as Europe’s economy starts to open-up again.
In a statement released following the online discussion, Commissioner Johansson noted that: “Migrants are a crucial component of the EU social and economic workforce. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the reliance on formal and even informal working practices.”
“Many of those making it possible for all of us to get through the crisis are immigrants,” continued the Commissioner. “Health and care assistants, supermarket staff, agricultural workers and many more were born outside the EU. These essential workers will also be part of the recovery phase. Post-crisis, their contribution to the rebuilding of our economy will also strengthen the cohesion of our communities.”
According to a briefing paper prepared by Francesco Fasani and Jacopo Mazza, which was published by the European Commission last month, migrant workers from outside the EU make up a significant part of the workforce in certain key occupations such as cleaning, construction, food processing and personal care. In many* of the EU Member States, more than 10% of people working in “key occupations” are migrant workers from non-EU countries.
One of the business representatives taking part in the online discussion was the CEO of EUROCHAMBRES, Mr Arnaldo Abruzzini, who reminded the other participants that migrants play a vital role in the European economy – both as employees and as entrepreneurs, and therefore supporting the economic participation of migrants is “an economic necessity for our businesses in various sectors“.
Mr Abruzzini said that Chambers are in favour of an EU-wide plan that would make it easier for migrant entrepreneurs to start new businesses. “They will contribute to the recovery and to employment” – he insisted.
The ERIAS Project contributes to both: preparing third country nationals for employment and also for becoming entrepreneurs. In view of the current situation, in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, certain project activities have slowed down. However, it is expected that these activities will speed up again as soon as the situation returns to normal, and the project partners remain determined to ensure a successful implementation of the various ERIAS activities.
* The EU Member States where migrant workers from non-EU countries represent more than 10% of people working in “key occupations” include Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden.
Immigrant Key Workers: Their Contribution to Europe’s COVID-19 Response
(Briefing published by the European Commission on 24 April 2020)
Read the statement issued by Commissioner Johansson on 6 May 2020