The European Countries That Recruit Seasonal Workers From Africa ?

There is no single program in Europe for admitting seasonal workers from “third countries” outside the EU. The programs vary widely in terms of how many people are admitted and where they come from, as well as when permits are issued, their duration, and workers’ pay and conditions.

According to the European Migration Network (EMN), different groups are responsible for hiring seasonal workers from third countries. These include: private recruitment agencies, sometimes in the countries of origin; employers/farmers; trade unions/chambers of commerce; and public employment services (i.e., job centers).

The EMN also reports that in 2019, Poland took the largest number of seasonal workers (around 46,000), followed by Finland (17,000), Spain (12,000), Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, and Italy.

Some, but not all, EU member states look to countries outside the European continent to recruit seasonal workers. In 2018, most seasonal workers in Finland and Sweden were Thais who were hired as berry pickers. In the same year in France, the top five countries of origin were Morocco, Mali, Guinea, Tunisia and Ivory Coast, while in Spain, the main country of origin for seasonal laborers was Morocco.

Seasonal work presents opportunities, but also dangers. In some cases, in spite of efforts by trade unions and others, seasonal laborers are exploited and even trafficked. There have been several reports of trafficking among berry pickers from Thailand in recent years, for example, while cases have also been reported in Poland, Portugal, Greece and Italy, where migrants with no papers working in the agricultural sector are especially vulnerable to various forms of exploitation.

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