Today more than ever, the European Union needs a comprehensive albeit differentiated approach towards legal labour migration, which responds to the varied needs of domestic labour markets and at the same time discourages effectively irregular migration. The segmented structure of domestic labour markets and the demographic deficit of Europe lead to increasing demand for a migrant labour force. This labour force is concentrated in specific sectors, such as cleaning, catering and care jobs for women; and construction, agricultural and semi-skilled manufacturing jobs for men. Such labour shortages are better catered to by a demand-led approach that takes into account the different economic cycles of Member States, their different economies and labour markets, while at the same time responds to long-term sociodemographic processes, including: a. The ageing of European societies; b. The configuration of nuclear families without extended support networks to cover needs for care of children or elderly/disabled people; c. The participation of women in paid work outside the home; d. These trends are irreversible and persist even in periods of economic downturn or weak growth. A flexible albeit proactive regulatory framework that would allow for demand and shortages to drive recruitment of migrant workers, while also being adaptable to territorial and sectorial variations, would be optimal. Of course, the thorny issue also needs to be addressed of how to match flexibility with worker protection from exploitation, setting up a clear and realistic set of rights and duties for both employer and employee. A framework sectorial approach can be tested in niche sectors such as domestic work or agriculture, complementing existing directives regulating training, research, students, intracompany transferees, highskill migrants and seasonal employment.