There are 20.2 million third-country immigrants legally in the European Union, equal to about 4% of the total population of the EU-27 (502.5 million) and 9.4% of the estimated 214 million recognised regular migrants worldwide. This is one of the figures of the 2011 figures on migration, asylum and freedom of movement in the EU presented today by the European Commissioner for Internal Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom. The commission's report underscored the importance of migration on the European agenda for the growth of a continent with an aging population. ''Even with an unemployment rate of around 10%,'' claims the report, ''many member states do not have a sufficient labour force and capacity in a number of sectors and for different reasons.'' In a Eurobarometer survey accompanying the survey, 68% of Europeans think that legal immigrants should enjoy the same rights as European citizens. However, only 42% feel that immigration should be encouraged to deal with the demographic slide and gaps in the labour force, while 46% hold the opposite opinion. Only 53% of Europeans think that immigration enrich the countries receiving it at the cultural and economic level. As concerns illegal immigration, in 2011 access to the European Union was denied to 343,000 people (-13% compared with 2010) and 468,000 were stopped after having managed to enter illegally (compared with 505,000 in 2010). In the eyes of 80% of Europeans, the EU should increase assistance to countries like Italy and Malta to deal with illegal immigration, and 78% think that the costs should be shared out among members of the EU-27.
Last year asylum requests rose to 302,000, a 16.2% increase over 2010, but still well below the peak of 425,000 in 2011.(ANSAmed).