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A Bigger Europe and Migration Under Control …

  • December 16th, 2006
  • Posted by 7thmin

eu-summit-venue-resize.jpgThe December summit each year might be an important chance for political leaders at the top level to see one another and take notes; the particular group are able meet no more than four times each year; but there was nothing too specific for them to take on this time.

In the event they laid down the groundwork for a restructure of the European Union that will assist it to absorb still more, new member countries; and they approved a plan for handling immigration that could set new bench-marks for civilised countries everywhere.

TURKISH ENTRY

A threatened fight over slowing down Turkey’s contentious bid to enter the European Union was neutralised in the days before the summit.

Turkish authorities had declined to honour an undertaking to let Cypriot ships and aircraft use their ports, saying there was no reciprocity.

The Greek community forms the majority on the island state, a member of the EU, which wants to benefit from the union rule in external relations, that all members insist on being treated the same.

A proposal from the European Commission to suspend talks on eight out of some thirty negotiating points on the agenda, was approved; it will slow but not stop Turkey’s application, and leading figures like Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, averred that special steps should be taken to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots.

The message from Ankara was that the Prime Minister and government of Turkey, which has campaigned for entry to Europe during the last fifteen years, were askance and angry about the projected further delay.

“ENLARGEMENT”

Two other countries, Bulgaria and Romania, are to join the EU on 1.1.07; their European Commission members, one each, have already been appointed, and they will join eight other former communist states in the new twenty-seven member group.

The drive for enlargement of the EU began seriously with the end of the Cold War and the accession of an additional ten states in 2004.

It has stalled because of fears that the “federal” structures and governmental processes of the organisation will not work properly with too many member states.

It has stalled also because of fears that the European public have had enough of an expanding governmental body that is less responsive to ordinary political pressure than national parliaments, and with its open-market, freedom-of-movement laws, could bring too many migrants into local areas.

That was the flavour of the successful both campaigns in the celebrated referenda in France and the Netherlands, which blocked the new constitution of Europe, designed to accommodate a large number of member countries.

The plan for at least a proportion of that restructuring, together with further expansion of membership, has now come back.

The German Presidency of the EU, starting in January, has readily agreed to work on constitutional proposals.

It was agreed also at the Brussels summit that those changes would be accompanied by strict enforcement of entry standards, though not brand new standards – making sure that new arrivals complied with EU norms of economic management and democratic rights.

In the meantime, all leading spokespersons at Brussels this time kept on reassuring potential new states that they would get the best of hearings.

Albania is in the queue, along with Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

IMMIGRATION

The key to Europe’s response to the wave of migration causing great anxiety along its Mediterranean coasts is a new and highly organised liaison with all the countries of Africa; together with tighter border controls, which receives less promotional attention.

A program has been endorsed now by the Summit leaders that divides immigration into two parts: clandestine entry, requiring police action and well managed handling of arrivals; and legal entry, requiring concerted management and help for the new citizens.

The European Commission has already been at work, merging different functions relevant to immigration , so that in practice they are well co-ordinated: aid for refugees in desert camps, health care, economic development assistance for poorer countries, employment programs, or education and training.

The policy recognises that with its ageing population Europe will want new people this century, and accordingly their transfer to Europe should be well assisted.

In particular new agencies will co n-ordinate “employment mobility”, the movement of qualified workers to jobs, from country to country in Africa itself and in Europe.

A congress at Ministerial level took place last month, at Tripoli in Libya, of all African countries, all members of the European Union, and other European states.

A full-scale summit of the leaders of those countries was proposed by the European leaders this time, with co-operation on migration issues already listed as one of its key purposes.

It will not prevent the rush of people towards Europe, in tens-of-thousands, overnight; well over 20 000 have made it by small boat to the Canary Islands alone this year, a large annual increase; but it will be well-funded and well-intentioned, on a scale never yet seen.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFGHANISTAN

It was wasted on none of the participants in the European Summit, that as they conferred on enlargement and best-practice in management, another head of government, not of their own kind, Ismail Haniya of the Palestinian Authority, was being shot at, as he tried to bring funds into his strife-torn fragment of homeland.

The Secretary General of the European Council, (the formal institution of the summit), Javier Solana, watched developments closely at the Raffa crossing-point into Gaza, reporting to the gathering, and telling journalists that at least the role of EU observers had been helpful in calming things down.

The incident highlighted the critical state of relations in the Middle East region, and worry about it in the corridors of power everywhere.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had already committed himself to attempting a peace mission , for Israel and Palestine, and for Lebanon, and at the end of the summit he left for Turkey to make a start. (See accompanying report on Blair in EUAustralia Online, 15.12.06).

The European leaders also agreed to do more in Afghanistan, in collaboration with the international alliance there, by adding to a German initiative, giving training to police.

Picture: Summit centre at Brussels this week (14.12.06)

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