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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 18:44 GMT
EU unveils new immigration plans
An illegal migrant on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife
Spain's Canary Islands are struggling with a migrant influx
The European Union has announced new plans to attract skilled labour from Africa while boosting efforts to fight illegal immigration and trafficking.

Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini called for new job centres in Africa to help match supply with demand.

This year the Spanish authorities have detained about 28,000 migrants in the Canary Islands, while some 16,000 have reached Italy's Lampedusa Island.

The EU plans to allocate 40m euros (27m) to boost job creation in Africa.

Fear of brain-drain

Mr Frattini proposed establishing EU "Migration Support Teams" to help African countries manage migration.

He also announced plans to create "European Job Mobility Portals" in African countries which would provide information for local people about job opportunities in Europe.

The new measures are expected to help "step up the dialogue and co-operation on migration issues with Africa", he said.

Illegal migrants on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife
Most migrants to the Canary Islands are Senegalese

Some African officials and aid groups have warned that attracting skilled labour will cause a brain-drain in Africa.

Mr Frattini insisted his plans would not result in a shortage of educated talent in Africa.

"We can avoid the brain-drain by enhancing our assistance to the countries of origin, by promoting initiatives to have a brain circulation rather than a brain drain," he said, quoted by the AP news agency.

Last week, the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, told a conference of more than 50 African and European government ministers that they must accept high levels of cross-border migration.

Libya is a key route for thousands of African migrants seeking to cross into Europe to begin a new life.

Mr Gaddafi said resisting migration "is like rowing against the stream".

The European Commission has set up rapid reaction teams of border guards, called Frontex, to tackle the migrant influx.

The teams have already helped Spain deal with thousands of migrants trying to get to the Canary Islands.

Mr Frattini said the EU was also planning patrols off Malta.

Map showing main migration routes




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