PORTUGAL : The European country that wants more migrants. Unlike most European nations, who are trying to reduce the influx of migrants, Portugal is bucking the trend by looking to immigration as a way to counter its declining population.

''We need more immigration and we won't tolerate any xenophobic rhetoric,'' Prime Minister Antonio Costa told activists at a  party conference in May, drawing resounding applause.

Demonstrating this openness, Portugal was one of the first that volunteered to take in some of the migrants on board the  Lifeline , a rescue ship which had been stranded at sea since June 21 after Italy refused it safe harbour.

And as European leaders struggled to reach a deal at a summit last week over who should take in migrants rescued off the coast of North Africa, Portugal's socialist government was already taking steps to make itself a more attractive destination.

''It was a very difficult summit and the apparent consensus reached in the deal did not hide the deep divisions which are today threatening the European Union,'' Costa after leaving the summit.

And Friday's election of former Portuguese minister Antonio Vitorino as head of the  International Organization for Migration  ''demonstrates the great importance that Portugal places on dialogue about the issue,'' the foreign minister said.

AIM : 75,000 a year.

Costa, whose father was a well known communist writer descended from an aristocratic family in the former Portuguese colony of  Goa in India,  has made reviving the declining population a  key element  of his political programme.

And it will be a  central issue  for him as the country heads into election next year in which Costa is the frontrunner.

According to studies quoted by the government, Portugal needs at least  75,000  new residents every year simply to maintain  a stable working population, which today numbers just  10.4 million.


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