European Union ministers reached broad agreement on a common
immigration and asylum policy during a meeting in France. Lisa Bryant
reports for VOA that France, which holds the rotating EU presidency,
wants the proposal to be formally adopted in October.
by the French government, the proposed immigration and asylum
guidelines aim to set common European standards for legal and illegal
immigrants. They would toughen policies against illegal immigration -
for example, making sure those caught are expelled while basing legal
immigration criteria on the needs of individual European Union states.
France also wants to establish common European asylum policies.
number of European interior and justice ministers meeting in the resort
city Cannes hailed the French proposals, with Greece's interior
minister saying he hoped it would be finalized by the end of France's
EU presidency in December. The Interior minister of Spain, which has
voiced reservations about parts of the French proposals, said he was
The proposed guidelines have been amended to take
into account European concerns. French calls for European nations to
reject mass regularization of illegal immigrants, which Italy and
Spain have done in recent years, has been watered down, as has a French
demand that immigrants sign a so-called "integration contract."
immigrant rights groups like CIMADE are critical of the immigration
pact. Sonia Lokku, the head of the non-governmental organization's
international cooperation department, says the proposals are based more
on European security concerns than on human rights or Europe's economic
"Europe needs immigration a lot," she said. "It has been
made clear for geographic reasons but also for economic reasons. There
are lots of reasons for a country such as Spain, for instance, to have
mass regularizations. Because they realize that migrants contribute a
lot to the economy once they are at the peak of their growth.
they are regularized and once they become documented migrants they also
pay taxes, they contribute to the social security system, to the
pension system and so on. So it is really a win-win situation," she continued.
recent years, a number of EU countries have been cracking down on
illegal aliens, alarmed by the tens of thousands of would-be immigrants
arriving on their shores each year. At the same time, immigrant rights
groups like CIMADE argue that an aging Europe will need more immigrants
in its labor force in the future.