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An Italian politician has said that the country would struggle to function without an influx of migrant labour.
Emma Bonino, formerly a Minister of Foreign Affairs who has previously served three terms in the EU Parliament as well as a former leader of the Radicals, said: "We need them and we say clearly that they are not stealing our jobs.
“They make the things that we no longer want to do.
“To these people we entrust the most precious things that we have, like our children and our elderly, for example.
“Isn’t it better to give them papers instead of having illegal immigrants here?"
She added: “To have an equilibrium between retirees and workers we would need 160.000 more workers every year, just to keep a balance.
“We have today about 6 million immigrants that produce 8% of GDP. What do we want to do with a population that we need? We have to tell the truth: it is a problem, but it is not an invasion."
Ms Bonino attacked the current political administration and its uneasy relationship with the EU over how to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis, with Ms Bonino describing the relationships as “a difficult but necessary co-existence”.
She added: “In Italy we are really good at saving lives: we must be grateful to the Coast Guard and all private operators who are engaged in this effort. There is also a service policy, but what is completely missing is the next step: namely a any integration project. These men, women and children are forgotten. the problem is that the legislation is governed by an outdated law.”
Italy currently has an estimated 6.5 million legal and illegal immigrants but Bonino pointed to the lack of agreement between the individual EU states as a stumbling block to integrating them.
Ms Bonino said “few” of them had started measures to either gain legal work or begin to learn the language.
She said: “The fact is that not only did we not have a law on integration, but we also fragile tools. The employment centers that should help you find work and even legal immigrants in Italy are completely under funded.”