EU to back Spanish crackown on illegal migration

2nd December 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 December 2005, BRUSSELS — European Union interior ministers backed an international plan against illegal immigration being promoted by Spain.

2 December 2005

BRUSSELS — European Union interior ministers backed an international plan against illegal immigration being promoted by Spain.

But several nations criticized mass amnesties or "legalizations" such as the one carried out by Madrid earlier this year.

The plan, submitted by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and French prime minister Dominique de Villepin at a recent informal summit in Britain , spelled out concrete measures and called for increased financing by EU member states.

Spanish interior minister Jose Antonio Alonso proposed that EU nations spend "no less than 3 percent of the Neighborhood Financial Instrument for immigration-related expenses".

This would amount to roughly EUR 400 million (USD 469m) and represent an increase from the current 1.5 percent.

Alonso said at a press conference that, with regard to immigration plans, "political statements are credible if, in addition to being intelligent and containing sound analysis of the reality, they contain financial proposals that make them possible".

That money is necessary to develop concrete measures that are essential to attract the support of European public opinion, added Alonso.

He said if these measures are not put in place, or if there is a perception among the public that not enough is being done, intolerance toward immigrants could rise and their integration into society would be made more difficult.

The plan, which must be approved by EU leaders during their next meeting between 15-16 December, recommends tightening immigration controls while simultaneously increasing cooperation with African immigrants' countries of origin and of transit.

In terms of increased immigration controls, the plan suggests creating a Mediterranean coast guard, which would be run by the EU's border control agency, Frontex.

This plan is a "first step" toward an EU-wide immigration policy, which currently does not exist, EU commissioner for security, freedom and fustice, Franco Frattini, said.

However, the member states remain resistant to the idea of the EU taking charge of border control, or even acting in a supervisory capacity.

During the meeting, the interior ministers of Germany, Italy, Cypress and France also expressed opposition to mass amnesties for illegal immigrants and called on their colleagues to reconsider the negative consequences of these processes.

Mass legalizations, they said, could lead to a increase in illegal immigration and also encourage the growth of people-smuggling gangs.

Last Spring, Spain "regularized" the residency of some 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were able to demonstrate that they had been in the country for at least six months, and that they had a job.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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