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German leader wants immigration mainly from Europe

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October 5, 2013 08:11 AM EST | AP


BERLIN — BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says her country needs skilled workers from abroad to plug a labor shortage that threatens to harm Germany's competitiveness.

But in her weekly online address Saturday Merkel said immigrants should mainly come from other European countries.

Germany has been accused of taking advantage of high unemployment rates elsewhere in the European Union to poach skilled workers.

A recently introduced "blue card" system to encourage people with specialist skills from outside the 28-nation EU has met with limited success.

Last year, less than 2,600 people from outside the EU came to Germany using this system.

Experts say Europe's biggest economy needs tens of thousands of qualified engineers, doctors and care-givers each year because of its aging and dwindling population.