Immigration reform paves way for EU changes

25th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

25 February 2005, BRUSSELS- With a massive Spanish amnesty for illegal immigrants as a backdrop, EU interior ministers are considering a common policy on major changes to immigration.

25 February 2005

BRUSSELS- With a massive Spanish amnesty for illegal immigrants as a backdrop, EU interior ministers are considering a common policy on major changes to immigration.

Ministers from the 25 member-states of the European Union took a "first step" toward a future common migrations policy, according to Luxembourg's Nicolas Schmit, whose country currently exercises the bloc's rotating presidency.

The deputy foreign minister, who also holds the immigration portfolio in Luxembourg's government, said an 'early warning' system to signpost individual countries' decisions to legalize undocumented migrants.

"It will go beyond that to better coordinate everything that happens in the area of immigration," he said.

"It's a question of common interest because we are in an open space and people move freely in it," Schmit pointed out, saying that the early-warning mechanism will keep EU members better informed about decisions that might affect them.

Spain's Labour Minister, Jesus Caldera, told reporters at EU headquarters that his country favours the information-exchange system and any other measure meant to increase cooperation on the immigration issue.

"In common policies, like control of borders, the results should extend to illegal immigration," Caldera said, while urging that each country be given the latitude "to address the details of legalizing economic migrants according to its own judgments."

The agreement among the ministers meeting in Brussels makes it likely the European Commission - the EU's executive body - will present a preliminary outline of the new mechanism in April.

The launch of the initiative was delayed after German and Dutch criticism of the way Spain implemented its de facto amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegals, with both Berlin and the Hague saying that Madrid's EU partners should have been notified in advance.

What one EU nation does regarding immigrants directly affects others, in that borders between bloc members are traversed without individuals going through customs or immigration checks, they claimed.

The case of Spain was not specifically mentioned meeting, nor was the controversial situation in Germany, where more flexible visa policies that took effect in 2000 were found to have paved the way for the indiscriminate entry of thousands of people from Eastern Europe.

But the EU commissioner for Justice, Security and Solidarity, Italy's Franco Frattini, said visa policy is a bloc-wide issue and that the problems in Germany led the commission to suggest modifications in common consular regulations.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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