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Financial Times: "Greece will integrate 300,000 irregular migrants amid labour shortages" - Controversial measure as unemployment is persistent

A bombshell article in the Financial Times reports that "Greece will integrate 300,000 migrants amid a labour shortage", as dozens of highly skilled Greeks continue their "exodus" abroad in search of a better future.

Britain's Telegraph writes that Greece will use migrants to build a metro and airport, a controversial move aimed at addressing job vacancies in tourism and other sectors, but critics fear it could encourage immigration.

According to the reports, for which the government owes immediate clarification and relevant information, Greece plans to legalise the status of up to 300,000 migrants to address growing labour market shortages, although unemployment in the country remains high and growing shortages in the good life of citizens have not been addressed.

Immigration Minister Dimitris Kairidis said on Tuesday that the plan aims to alleviate acute shortages in agriculture, tourism and construction and includes migrants whose residence permits have expired or are undocumented. Kairidis argued that the initiative would not encourage more illegal immigration, but "will boost public revenues through taxes and employment contributions and help address dramatic shortages in certain sectors."

The plan was discussed Tuesday at a national security meeting chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, but has not yet been formalized.

Migration flows to Greece more than tripled in August compared with the same month in 2022, with 715 arrivals. Since the beginning of September, another 7,000 people have arrived on Greek islands, pushing the capacity of migrant facilities to their limits.

The government, which has been criticised for its harsh treatment of migrants, has promised to be "fair but tough". Mr Kairidis told the Financial Times that Greek authorities would continue to "guard the borders diligently, but also ... provide very humane conditions for asylum seekers".

While trying to crack down on irregular migrants, Greece is feeling the pressure of a labour shortage, particularly in agriculture, the Financial Times said.

The labour centre in Heraklion, Crete, warned last month that many vine growers are seeing "the fruits of their labour go to waste" as they cannot complete the harvest without additional help. Other crops are also affected, with the Ierapetra Agricultural Association saying that in several rural areas of Crete "the situation is extremely difficult", with many producers abandoning their crops as they cannot cope on their own.

Agriculture Minister Lefteris Avgenakis said that programmes for foreign workers with countries such as Egypt and Bangladesh are often delayed due to bureaucratic obstacles and that it is imperative to recruit migrants already in the country. The minister said there are many farm workers in Greece who work in the informal economy, creating "insecurity and causing social, health and tax problems".

By legalising their status, "we will give a breathing space to the people who employ them and the employers who hire them without the anxiety of doing something illegal," Avgenakis said.

According to the Telegraph report, the hundreds of thousands of migrants expected to be legalised are to work as construction workers as he struggles to complete major public works projects such as a metro system and an airport in Crete.

Europe is facing a new wave of migration, fuelling political friction between EU member states, including Germany and Italy, and raising concerns about what to do with the growing number of refugees on the continent.

Speaking during a visit to the US on Tuesday, Swella Braverman, the UK Home Secretary, warned that uncontrolled migration is an "existential challenge" for the West as she called for a rewrite of the 10-year-old UN refugee convention.

Difficulty finding enough workers is holding up some major public works, he said, including a new airport in Crete and the construction of a metro system in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

The metro system was delayed because of the decade-long Greek economic crisis, which began in 2009, and because of numerous archaeological discoveries made as engineers dug deep beneath the city.

In Crete, meanwhile, the planned construction of a new airport outside Heraklion, the island's main city, was thwarted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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