Italy woo migrants to fill labour shortages

Italy is considering legalising the status of undocumented migrants as part of efforts to fill labour shortages in agriculture, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, said on Wednesday.

The issue is being assessed with the agriculture and labour ministers, Lamorgese said in response to a parliamentary question in the Senate.

“There is a need to find a specific solution to the problems that are arising in the agriculture and fishing industries, and to tackle labour shortages in those sectors,’’ she added.

According to farmers’ lobby Coldiretti, this year the agricultural sector will be short of at least 200,000 foreign seasonal workers due to border closures.

Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova, said separately, on several occasions, that legalising undocumented foreign workers was also a way of freeing them from the common risk of exploitation.

Bellanova is also in talks with Romania, where most seasonal rural workers come from, to create special corridors allowing them to enter Italy despite the restrictions.

Coldiretti has instead proposed simplifying rules for casual work so that the unemployed, pensioners and students could find new work in the fields.

It is unclear how many would take up the opportunity.

Last week, Coldiretti said it received nearly 400 CVs within a few hours of opening a portal for candidates.

In Brussels, a European Commission spokesman said he could not comment specifically on Italian plans, but noted that they did not seem to go against European Union rules.

“There is nothing to stop a member state from a legal point of view, in any case from issuing residence permits to individuals whose situation they want to bring in order,’’ Adalbert Jahnz said.

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