Social Issues

Greek Parliament approves regularization of 30,000 immigrants due to labor shortage

Athens, Dec. 19 (EFE) – The Greek Parliament on Tuesday approved an amendment proposed by the conservative government that would grant residency and work permits to some 30,000 undocumented immigrants in order to address a labor shortage.

The amendment was approved by a large majority (262 out of 300 deputies), as all parties in parliament voted in favor of it, except for the three far-right formations (Spartans, Greek Solution and Victory).

However, former Prime Minister and deputy of the ruling New Democracy (ND) Antonis Samaras also voted against the bill, pointing out that it would make Greece “a beacon for attracting illegal immigrants”.

Under the new legislation, in order to work legally in Greece, it will be sufficient to have lived in the country for at least three years instead of seven, not to have committed a crime and to have a job offer.

Local press reports that there is a shortage of some 70,000 workers in the fruit, vegetable, olive and livestock sectors, while there are also thousands of vacancies in the tourism and construction sectors.

The Minister of Migration, Dimitris Kairidis, pointed out during the debate on the amendment that Greece has a problem of “reduction of the labor force” and that this legislation is “essential” in order not to slow down the development of the economy.

According to Labor Minister Adonis Georgiadis, who spoke to the private television station SKAI, the legalization of these immigrants will also contribute to the fight against undeclared work.

It is one of the few times in recent years that legislation has passed with such a large majority, with both ND and the main opposition party, the leftist Syiriza, voting in favor.

However, the conservative government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis makes it clear that this legislation does not mean a change in its “strict but fair” stance on migration and border protection.

Greece is one of the main entry points for refugees trying to reach the European Union.

According to the UN refugee agency, nearly 45,000 people have arrived in Greece from Turkey this year as of Dec. 10, more than double 2022’s figure of just under 19,000.

Greece has been repeatedly accused by NGOs and international media of carrying out illegal “pushbacks,” in which refugees and migrants are forced back across the Greek-Turkish border without consideration of their individual circumstances and without the opportunity to apply for asylum, in violation of international law. EFE

dsp/ics/mcd

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