New committee to re-evaluate immigration needs

11th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, July 11 (AFP) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday announced the creation of an inter-ministerial committee tasked with re-evaluating the country's immigration needs and its visa procedures.

MARSEILLE, France, July 11 (AFP) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday announced the creation of an inter-ministerial committee tasked with re-evaluating the country's immigration needs and its visa procedures.

Sarkozy said during a visit to the southern port of Marseille that the committee would begin work in September and deliver its conclusions in March 2006.

Saying he wanted to "profoundly transform" France's immigration policy, Sarkozy said his goal was to move beyond a so-called "inflicted immigration, where everyone loses, to select immigration, where everyone will be a winner".

The minister, who also leads President Jacques Chirac's ruling centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, recommended the implementation of a "points system that would allow us to welcome the foreigners that we want".

Points would be given to visa candidates based on "age, education, knowledge of languages and professional experience," Sarkozy said.

The tough-talking interior minister, who has made no secret of his presidential ambitions ahead of the 2007 election, pledged to crack down on illegal immigration and marriages of convenience.

French consulates will be instructed to refuse tourist visas to those candidates who present a "migratory risk", he said.

Sarkozy called for the creation of a central government agency tasked with handling immigration issues and asylum requests, and for better data sharing between police stations at home and French consulates abroad.

Last week, the European Union's five biggest countries -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain -- agreed at a meeting in Evian, France to establish joint naval patrols in the Mediterranean to stem the tide of illegal migrants.

They also agreed to set up joint flights to repatriate would-be immigrants.

About 70 percent of France's immigrants come from North Africa and French-speaking west Africa, but since 2000, more and more immigrants have come from China, the former Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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