Louis Michel, the European Union's development commissioner, is in the western African nation of Mali for talks with Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure on setting up job centers for African migrants. The first such center is planned for Mali, with other centers planned for Senegal and Mauritania.
The aim it to help migrants find jobs in the EU in such sectors as agriculture, building and cleaning.
The EU has a history of dealing with extensive illegal immigration to the bloc from African nations. Many Africans attempt crossing over to the EU via the Canary Islands and thousands have died trying.
While the EU is increasing border patrols, both on land and sea, there is a desire to offer more routes to legal migration for those wishing to make the trip. The EU has a need to fill jobs in which there are labor shortages as well as a wish to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
New EU member states grumbling
The newest members to the EU would like to have restrictions lifted on their citizens first, before Africans are given the green light.
On 04 February, Romanian president Traian Basescu harshly criticized existing work restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals.
Speaking on TV, he lambasted European employers for illegally hiring Romanian workers.
"Not only are Romanians guilty, but, at least as guilty are the employers of the EU countries who illegally employ them on low salaries," he said.
In particular, Basescu was criticizing the UK, which had initially allowed free movement of labor for the countries that joined the EU in 2004, only to close its doors to workers from Romania and Bulgaria upon their accession to the bloc in 2007.
"What we are upset about is the different treatment for Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK, compared to the first 10 countries which joined the Union in 2004," commented Mr. Basescu.
His comments come after Ministers in the European Parliament stressed the need for free movement of labor across the bloc to be instituted before any measures to increase immigration from outside the EU.
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