WeLaR researcher Katrin Sommerfeld from the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW, Mannheim, Germany) recently delivered a keynote speech at the Lunch Debate held in Brussels on April 18, 2023.
Sommerfeld highlighted the growing labour shortage in the EU and advocated for increased immigration, including individuals from third countries, to address this issue within European labour markets.
“Since 2013, the number of job vacancies in the EU has more or less doubled, while unemployment has fallen by half,” she said. “In most countries, there is a shortage of craftsmen, care workers, IT specialists, but also of low-skilled workers in retail, security or the food industry.”
Her remarks set the stage for a panel discussion that ensued, moderated by Professor Nicolas Ziebarth, head of ZEW’s esteemed “Labour Markets and Social Insurance” unit. The panellists included Sommerfeld herself, alongside Ben Butters (CEO Eurochambres), Barbara Kauffmann (Director for Employment at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment and Social Governance, Analysis), and Barbara Surdykowska (Polish trade union Solidarność).
The event, attended by over 140 participants from the EU Commission, academia, trade unions, and businesses, focused on the impact of immigration on the labour markets within the European Union.
Throughout the discussion, the panel participants acknowledged the potential relief that immigration to the EU could provide for the labour market. However, researchers held differing opinions regarding the precise approaches to implementing specific policies to achieve this goal. The diversity of perspectives generated a stimulating exchange of ideas.
Read more about the discussion here.