EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Blitz On Illegal Migration To Head Reforms

  • May 17th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

eu-map-reduced.jpg New Europe-wide moves against illegal migration, with criminal penalties for employers exploiting clandestine workers, is one key to an immigration plan announced on Wednesday (16.5.07).
The EU Vice President for Justice, Freedom and Security, Franco Frattini, outlined the plan which heads of government had asked for late last year.

At their meeting in Lahti, Finland (Euaustralia 21.10.07), the government leaders heard from representatives of countries under heavy pressure from clandestine arrivals, especially Italy and Spain, receiving thousands in small boats from Africa.

They later unanimously endorsed a policy proposal that would combine active management of legal immigration with increased border patrols and tough disincentives against illegal entry.

Mr Frattini declared on Wednesday a package had been worked out, to include European legislation on the illegal entry problem.

TWO-PART STRATEGY

From his statement to journalists at Brussels:

(1) Moves to eradicate illegal labour market entry.

Legislative moves would start in the coming months to set up a formal Directive ending tolerance of illegal migrant participation. In a number of countries laws were not being enforced; for example there was active recruitment of seasonal agricultural workers in Italy, where illegal arrivals would be exploited. After the change, national standards and penalties would be put into the framework of the EU law; they would become binding and the central European Commission would monitor enforcement. It would not be possible to follow a different policy in any country.

“The direct reason for this is that workers are being exploited, underpaid, without access to social rights or education, and so forth, living in poor conditions in the territory of the European Union,” he said.

“The second reason is that only 2.8% of companies in the EU are being checked each year, so there are practically no controls at all, and our goal is to increase the level to at least 10%. It is to introduce law enforcement.

“The third reason is to end the distortion of the labour markets, where we need to avoid having safe harbours for tolerance of illegal immigration, and so will employ the penal code.”

Measures to back up the new system will include stepped-up co-operation on border security, and clauses in new agreements with countries of origin of migrants, giving guarantees that workers who over-stay visas, e.g. for seasonal work, can be repatriated. He said very few countries had made agreements with European governments up to this time on sending back their nationals; “it hardly ever happens.” Embassies and consulates of the European Union would be mobilised to spread the word that conditions had changed and tolerance had ended.

(2) Organisation of legal immigration.

The Commissioner said the European Union had accepted estimates including research by the United Nations which indicated it would need to import 20 million workers by the year 2050, because of its own ageing demographic pattern.

It already needed many seasonal workers especially in agriculture, construction and tourism.

It planned “participation packages” with countries in Africa and elsewhere, setting out procedures for selecting workers, matching offers with demand in different fields, and providing support, to include linguistic and other training, guaranteed working conditions and individual rights.

A separate scheme would be proposed in September for giving temporary opportunities to highly-skilled workers entering Europe, designed to avoid a brain-drain away from their home countries.

“We want to help people entering legally, sending remittances back, then returning to their origin countries, and then also to return to Eurpoe for another period of time,” Mr Frattini said.

MAKING LAWS WORK

Vice President Frattini said strong laws were immediately necessary because of growing problems with exploitation of immigrants and people trafficking.

For example countries around the Black Sea had become “really a transit region for all kinds of trafficking, including trafficking in people.”

“Europe can no longer tolerate a black labour market from migration,” he said.

The law against employment of illegal entrants would alter the notion of the “legal personality” of possible offenders, changing the basis from the size of employment operation, to the character of the mistreatment of employees.

In that case an individual employer or company of any size would normally face corrective sanctions, like having to make up pays and provide training or pensions; others, depending on the level of abuse would incur penal sanctions, (as set by the national government).

Previously small employers, such as an individual entrepreneur in the building trade or the owner of a villa with housekeepers, might have had less liability.

Illegal immigrants already in Europe are not to be exempt.

Following an amnesty on residents without papers implemented by Spain, the European Union changed its rules last November so that member countries must go into political talks with the other EU governments, before considering any such action.

General policy was against amnesties, as “you can’t make something illegal, legal”, he said.

Some countries notably Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom had reservations about the new laws because of worries about ceding sovereignty in the area of criminal law, and could opt out if they did it within six months.

Franco Frattini said all member governments had signed the 50th anniversary “Berlin Declaration” of the European Union, last March, taking in their concerns about immigration.

“One of the main political points in the Berlin Declaration was that illegal migration was seen as one of the main challenges where a European strategy was absolutely needed,” he said.

Reference:

EC DG Communication, “Towards a comprehensive European Migration Policy …”, Brussels, 16.5.07, IP/07/678

EC DR Communication, “Applying the Global Approach to Migration to the Eastern and South-Eastern Regions Neighbouring the European Union”, Brussels, 16.5.07, MEMO/07/195

EC DG Communication, “Sanctions against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals”, 16.5.07, Brussels, MEMO/07/196

EC DG Communication, Circular migration and mobility partnerships between the European Union and third countries”, Brussels, 16.5.07, MEMO/07/197

Picture:

Google map; preview.fit-for-europe.info

Leave a Reply