Sarkozy and Berlusconi write to EU over immigration
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have sent a joint letter to the EU urging action on illegal immigration, the Italian government said Friday.Rome - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have sent a joint letter to the EU urging action on illegal immigration, the Italian government said Friday.
The two leaders said illegal immigration in the Mediterranean represented a test of credibility for Europe and concrete action was needed.
They called for clear steps to strengthen the European frontier security agency Frontex and a deal to be concluded with Libya to tighten its borders.
The letter addressed to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who holds the rotating EU presidency, and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, came ahead of a summit on immigration on 29 October and 30.
French immigration minister Eric Besson and his Spanish counterpart Consuelo Rumi repeated the call to strengthen Frontex in Almeria, southern Spain, on Friday.
In a statement, Besson said the agency needed to work more effectively and be given the ability to charter flights to repatriate illegal immigrants.
A common training scheme for border guards across Europe could also strengthen the agency, the statement said.
France and Spain "wanted a fair and balanced European immigration policy, working in partnership with countries of origin and transit countries," according to the statement.
Besson also said Europe needed to do more to protect persecuted migrants and said he wanted to see an office set up to promote the harmonisation of asylum policy.