Greece Needs 180,000 Agricultural Workers, Exporters Call for Easing Entry Requirements

Exporters in Greece have urged authorities to relax entry requirements for hiring foreign land workers amid 180,000 shortages in this sector.

The lack of agricultural workers in Greece is resulting in either uncultivated land or unharvested products, thus causing notable losses to farmers and the country’s economy as well, Schengen.News reports.

The National Interprofessional Organization for Table Olives (DOEPEL), as cited by Gargalianoi Online, said that up to 30 percent of green olives of the 2022/23 growing season remained unharvested.

As a result, agricultural revenues decreased by nearly €27 million, while the country’s losses in insurance contributions from trademarks are estimated to have surpassed two million euros.

Therefore, exporters are proposing to apply the French model, which means easing hiring criteria for third country-nationals.

So far, Greece has received 14,000 applications for work residence permits following an amendment approved a few months ago. Meanwhile, authorities anticipate this number to surpass 30,000.

Greece Has Launched Applications for 5,000 Seasonal Workers From Egypt

Another initiative of the Greek government to address labour shortage includes a recent agreement reached between Greece and Egypt.

Under this bilateral agreement, Greece aims to recruit 5,000 Egyptian seasonal workers for the agricultural sector this summer. The electronic platform for employers to submit applications for hiring workers from Egypt has been launched on Greece’s Migration and Asylum Ministry’s website since June 10, 2024.

In addition, the Greek Greek Minister of Migration Dimitris Kairidis revealed that the first list of 2,400 qualified seasonal workers from Egypt has been prepared in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Labour.

However, from the agricultural perspective, such an initiative is seen as a “drop in the ocean”, as further reported by Gargalianoi Online. This is because demand for seasonal workers is estimated higher, reaching 80,000 in regions such Crete, Peloponnese and Macedonia.

Meanwhile, the Prefecture of Messinia needs about 4,800 agricultural workers for the whole cultivation period (nine months), according to the president of the Agricultural Association of Philiatrians of Messinia, Aggelis Korovilas.

For 2023 and 2024, Greece has planned to allocate 147,926 residence permits for third-country national workers across 13 regions of the country.

Prior to the above-mentioned moves, Greece has considered the possibility to integrate irregular migrants in a bid to tackle labour shortages. In September 2023, the Greek Minister of Migration Dimitris Kairidis, stated that by regularising the status of irregular migrants, Greece aims to ease the shortages in the construction, agriculture, and tourism.

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