France, under pressure from right wing, toughens stance on immigration

Labour shortages These are the most needed workers in France

"This is about France hiring based on its needs. said Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud".

Philippe confirmed that parliament would in future set annual sectoral "goals or quotas" on skilled migration from non-EU countries, similar to the systems in place in Canada and Australia.

Penicaud did not say how many foreign workers would receive visas or whether the candidate's citizenship would be taken into consideration - a proposal made by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe last month. The quotas were presented as a way to simplify the hiring process for businesses.

Currently, employers have to explain why a French national can not be hired in a complex administrative process that resulted in around 33,000 economic migrants receiving visas previous year.

The government, closely allied to centrist President Emmanuel Macron, is walking a political tightrope because it is under pressure too from its own supporters who oppose any measures they view as pandering to the far-right.

Philippe said France needed to "take back control" of migration as part of a government push to listen to voters' worries about migration that risk playing into the hands of the far right.

"France can not host everyone if it wants to host people well", Macron said in an interview in September, pointing to a sharp increase in asylum claims since 2017. He added: "In order to be able to welcome everyone properly, we should not be too attractive a country".

In 2018 Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban pledged to protect his country's borders from illegal migration, with Budapest harshly opposing European Union mandatory migrant relocation quotas, and banning non-governmental organisations from providing aid to undocumented migrants. Macron distanced himself from the idea of quotas during the 2017 election campaign andpraised the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, for "saving our collective dignity" by allowing in large numbers of refugees. When an outraged voter criticised Macron for doing the interview, he said: "You have to speak to everyone".

The French prime minister said the new measures were the mark of a "France that is open but is not naive".

Measures may include restrictions on migrants withdrawing family members, or restricting access to asylum seekers' care while their requests are processed.



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