ATHENS, (Reuters) –
Greece will start bringing in workers from Egypt this summer to take on temporary farming jobs under a deal between the countries to tackle a labour shortage, the migration ministry said on Friday.
After a decad of pain the Greek economy is forecast to grow nearly 3% this year, far outpacing the euro zone average of 0.8%.
But an exodus of workers during Greece’s economic crisis, a shrinking population and strict migration rules have left the country struggling to find tens of thousands of workers to fill vacancies in farming, tourism, construction and other sectors.
Greece will take in around 5,000 seasonal farm workers under the 2022 deal signed with Egypt.
The countries have discussed expanding the “mutually beneficial” scheme to the Greek construction and tourism sectors, the Greek Migration Ministry said in a statement.
Migration has long been a divisive issue in Europe, but the plan had won broad support from employers groups keen to find workers.
Greek Migration Minister Dimitris Kairidis met Egyptian Labour Minister Hassan Shehata in Cairo this week and said the countries should also step up cooperation to fend off illegal migration flows in the region.
The European Union this year announced a multi-billion euro funding package and an upgraded relationship with Egypt, part of a push to cut down on the number of migrants crossing over from North Africa.
Rights groups have criticised Western support for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power a decade ago after leading the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected leader.