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January 2013, Volume 20, Number 1

EU: Migration, Jobs, Budget

Migration. The EU 27 member nations had 50 million foreign-born residents at the end of 2011; there were also 33 million citizens of non-EU 27 countries, including many who were foreign-born but some who were born to foreigners in the EU-27 country in which they are now living. Two-thirds of the foreign-born residents were born outside the EU, and 60 percent of the foreign citizens in EU-27 countries were born outside the EU.

The leading countries of origin of foreigners in EU-27 countries were Romania and Turkey, 2.3 million each, followed by Morocco, 1.9 million, and Poland, 1.6 million. About three-fourths of the Romanians are in Italy and Spain, while three-fourths of the Turks are in Germany.

Some 810,000 foreigners became naturalized citizens of EU-27 countries in 2010, up from 776,000 in 2009. Over 70 percent of these naturalizing citizens were in four countries, the UK with 195,000 naturalizations, France with 143,000, Spain with 124,000, and Germany with 105,000. The leading countries of origin of those naturalizing in EU-27 countries were Morocco, 67,000, Turkey, 49,900 and Ecuador, 45,200.

The European Commission in November 2011 launched an EU Immigration Portal to advise non-EU foreigners how to immigrate to an EU-member nation and non-EU foreigners living in one EU country on how to move to another. The EU is encouraging member states to develop simplified procedures for admitting skilled non-EU foreigners with Blue Cards, including one-stop shops to handle applications for work and residence permits.

Denmark in 2011 developed a "positive list" of professions with labor shortages to expedite entries, while Germany similarly developed a Skilled Labor Concept that lists occupations with labor shortages and expedites the admission of non-EU foreigners in these occupations. Spain sharply reduced the number of occupations included in its Catalog of Occupations in Short Supply because of high unemployment.

France processed 60,000 asylum applications in 2012, Germany 64,000 and Sweden 44,000.

Jobs. Unemployment in the 17-nation Euro zone was 11.8 percent in November 2012, including almost 27 percent in Spain and 26 percent in Greece. Austria had the lowest unemployment rate, 4.5 percent. In the EU-27 nations, over 25 million workers were jobless.

Unemployment among youth 15 to 24 is high and rising, 51 percent in Spain, 36 percent in Italy, and 22 percent in France. Many youth have dropped out of the labor force and are not in school, contributing to the EU's army of 14 million so-called NEETs, persons not in employment, education or training.

Budget. The European Union operates with a seven-year budget, and wrangling over the 2014-20 spending plan began in Fall 2012. The European Commission requested E1.3 trillion ($1.7 trillion) in spending, an increase of five percent from the previous seven-year period. Britain and Germany are leaders of countries that aim to reduce EU spending, while many of the Central European countries that joined the EU recently want to increase EU spending to aid their farmers and poorer regions.

About 36 percent of EU spending is for farm spending, followed by 35 percent for regional aid ("cohesion funds"), including assistance to build infrastructure in poorer regions. About six percent of EU spending is used to administer the EU.