A package of legislative initiatives for legal immigration in the EU, which aims to cover the gaps in jobs with skills, in specific branches of European industry, is to be presented in mid-November by the vice-president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, as announced today, by during his visit to the facilities of the Innovation and Skills Center (DACC) of Deloitte, in Thessaloniki.

On the occasion of the European Year of Skills, the Commissioner for the Promotion of the European Way of Life also announced that in the spring of 2024 he is going to submit a proposal for the establishment of a European university degree, with the aim of making Europe an educational destination.

In this context, he announced that 60 alliances were already “built” with more than 500 European universities.

In fact, he clarified that despite the competition that does exist between European universities, the proposal to establish the degree was enthusiastically received by the rectors. These degrees, which will be chosen voluntarily, will be awarded after attending the study programs in person – and not remotely.

In more detail, regarding the first of the two initiatives he has undertaken, Mr. Schinas pointed out that the legislation on legal immigration will allow the EU to connect job vacancies in cutting-edge sectors of the European market with the supply – the required skills and specialties- from countries such as those of North Africa and the Middle East. He pointed out that whoever comes to Europe through this route, it is self-evident that he should respect the principles and values ​​that govern European society, while there will also be a system of recognition of professional qualifications.

“(The new legislative initiatives) will not target highly specialized skills, as there is already legislation for them, the blue card system” he clarified and indicated that immigration for work will mainly concern sectors such as agriculture, health services, IT, tourism, hospitality and catering”.

European industry will play a decisive role in this matching between demand and supply of specific skills through legal immigration, while the program will not be managed by Brussels, but by each member state individually.

As for why this initiative was not launched earlier, especially given that there is already a skills deficit in the EU, Mr. Schinas pointed out: “we wanted to finish the negotiation on the Migration and Asylum Pact first”. He added that the EU has unprecedented resources from both the Reconstruction and Recovery Fund and the Social Fund for skills and vocational training and there is ongoing globalization of knowledge, skills and vocational training. He also mentioned the Erasmus program, for which the historically high amount of 27 billion euros will be allocated until 2027.

The human-centered management of Artificial Intelligence a challenge for Europe

In response to a question from APE-MPE as to what the EU is doing so that creative Artificial Intelligence functions as a complement to human work and supportive of human society, instead of replacing the role of humans, Mr. Schinas replied: “(.. .)In Europe we answer questions like this. In America they will never be answered and in China they will never be asked. There is a European way (of managing these issues), which we do not decide in Brussels, but society in Europe imposes on the regulators, especially in the field of Artificial Intelligence (TN).”

As he said, the discussion needs to move beyond large TN language models such as ChatGPT and expand to the many issues that will likely arise in a world where we are fully interconnected through the Internet of Things, and in which technology it will determine “how we eat, live, buy and fall in love and – if we’re not careful – how we vote”.

The challenge for Europe is, Mr. Schinas added, to achieve “the human-centered management of IT either at the beginning or at the end of the sequence of algorithms. In no case, however, will it be tolerated in Europe that the control of algorithms be left in the hands of software engineers. At the same time, however, under no circumstances should European rules lead to the desertification of Europe in technology, in relation to IT. We must not, because we will be demanding, that no one sets foot in Europe to do TN and everyone goes to London, Malaysia or America. I think we can do it, because the good thing about Europe is that the regulatory intervention is such that it can become a model for how this can all work properly.”

Mr. Schinas was welcomed to DACC by Vassilis Kafatos, partner of Deloitte and head of the Center in Thessaloniki, which last August exceeded the limit of 1000 employees, which makes it the largest hub of the company in Europe, “with the prospect of growing much more, while the important thing is that it is the only excellence competence center (of abilities and excellence), which means that it focuses on specialization of technologies and building skills of the future”.

In total, the employees in the company’s three centers – Thessaloniki, Patras and Ioannina – amount to 1180 today. the need to stick to one location, while the profile of employees is also changing, said Mr. Kafatos and added that “we will see an era of “end of jobs”, so some jobs will cease through AI disruption and the emphasis is now on skills, because through them people can acquire the necessary flexibility to function”._