Europe's immigrants are a new-blood asset, not a social problem, and they can help lift European Union economies out of crisis, an EU official said.
"Many member states have failed in migrant integration," Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters. "There is so much competence around us, trained physicists [and] engineers cleaning our stairs, doing jobs they are clearly overqualified for."
By contrast, western Sweden recruited 65 immigrant medical doctors who were working as bus drivers and in other jobs, and within a year of language training and skills updating, these people were practicing doctors, she said.
"In the end it was much cheaper than educating, for six to seven years, someone, giving him or her training and waiting to have enough experience to be hired," she was quoted in the EUobserver newspaper as saying.
At the same time, "many businesses still say we can't find people to do jobs such as picking strawberries," she noted as she released a study on the integration of the EU's more than 20 million immigrants, who represent 4 percent of the EU population.
Fear of immigrants, even in traditionally immigrant-friendly Scandinavian countries, is a key reason for immigrant problems, the study said.
This along with language barriers has created a ghetto-like segregation of migrants in underprivileged neighborhoods, it said.
In Sweden, for example, immigrants "live parallel lives, they have no Swedish friends, their kids have no Swedish classmates," Malmstrom said.
Maria Elena Ferrer, who works with immigrants in Spain and the United States on integration, told United Press International this sort of segregation exacerbates immigrant challenges, which typically include a condition known as migratory mourning.
Migratory mourning develops when an immigrant feels separation from loved ones; from one's language, culture and former social status; and from loss of or risks to physical security, she said.
"It can lead in some extreme cases to a more serious condition recently identified as Ulysses syndrome, so-called because the Greek hero suffered countless hardships and dangers far from his loved ones," she said.
Immigrants contributed to 30 percent of Spain's economic growth before the current economic crisis, Malmstrom said. And they continue to be needed, even as the crisis has forced many Spaniards into unemployment,.she said