In Sweden, the
labor rate per hour is one of the highest in the
world. In an effort to alleviate labor shortages
and pressure on rising wage levels, the government of Sweden
, has proposed opening its borders to foreign workers. It
will also restrict asylum seekers from Iraq after initially
being fairly liberal about accepting them.
The proposals include allowing companies
to hire staff from anywhere in the world without having to
look for a Swedish or EU citizen first and introducing a
three-month job-seeker visa allowing non-EU nationals with
the right qualifications to come to Sweden to find work.
Time limits on work visas would also be removed.
Sweden's Migration Minister Tobias
Billstrom says there is a need to increase migration to the
country to offset retirement levels.
"There will be more to take care of and
fewer to support these people," he said at a press
conference on 17 July 2007. "Increasing worker migration can
be one way to solve this problem."
Currently, work permits can be granted
for up to 18 months. Under the new proposed system, foreign
workers could stay in Sweden for up to four years, according
Unemployment in Sweden is down to 3.9
percent and the labor market is continuing to improve. Wage
growth is expected to increase to 4 percent in 2007 and 4.3
percent in 2008.
Sweden, along with the UK and
Ireland, were the only EU countries not to place work
restrictions on new member states that joined in 2004.
The immigration proposals will be under
review until the middle of November. If implemented, the new
measures will come into force next spring, a government
Restricting Asylum Rules
Sweden also plans to tighten asylum rules
in response to the increasing influx of Iraqi refugees.
Currently, Sweden is the top European destination for
refugees from war-torn Iraq, according to immigration
Previously, Iraqis from the central and
southern regions of the country were granted asylum based on
the general turmoil that currently exists there, but now
they must show they face a specific threat of violence if
they are sent back. Previously, only northern Iraqis could
have their asylum claims dismissed.
"The consequence will probably be that
fewer asylum seekers will be granted asylum in Sweden," said
Migration Board director-general Dan Eliasson.
The board also said it would start
forcibly deporting Iraqis whose asylum applications were
More than 18,000 Iraqi asylum seekers
arrived in Sweden over the last two years, the highest
number recorded in Europe and more than double the number
allowed into the U.S. since its invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Swedes have generally welcomed the Iraqis
that have settled in their country and are proud of their
reputation as a haven for refugees from around the world.
However, the government and right-wing groups fear that the
surge of refugees will put a strain on the social benefit
Sweden has also complained that the rest
of Europe has failed to shoulder the burden of taking in
refugees from Iraq.