Is France now leading the way in stopping illegal immigration?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by ex_colonial, Apr 18, 2011.

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  1. France has closed its borders with Italy to trains carrying N. African migrants, see here :- France angers Italy after blocking migrants at border | euronews, world news
    Is this the start of a new tougher line on immigration or just part of upcoming election grandstanding by Sarkozy to appease the growing right wing support Le Pen's Party is getting, Where recent polls suggest that Marine le pen would get 23% of the first round votes!
  2. Let's grab onto their coat tails.
  3. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    As predicted by many the recent changes in N African politics has meant that masses of immigrants being held back by local dictators in return for EU support are now free to cross the med. In addition Libyans and Tunisians are taking the opportunity to get across also. Italy is seeing massive rises in numbers and can do little about it. Look for Britain taking "our share" in the near future
  4. We've already hired ships to go get some it was on the news at lunchtime.
  5. Makes a change from France 'signposting' them to the Channel.
  6. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    Lots from Chad, Tunisia and Ivory Coast - French speakers, so likely to stop in Paris
  7. E-C, I'm sure we've enough funds to support them for the rest of their lives, we've plenty of room, we can fill in the Thames and the Humber and build more houses if needs be.
  8. Probably coming out of the foreign aid budget, which was ring-fenced against cuts at the start of the Coalition.

    The French might be stopping their own as Sarkozy tries to cover himself in red, white and blue, but they usually make it worse for us by encouraging anyone of dubious legality to go right on through to Dover. As the OP says, it's just political grandstanding from Sarkozy. We'll get the same come the next election.
  9. I hope so - I really hope so. That said, I doubt Dave has the b*llocks and in any case, Vince (The Clown) Cable would not permit it - and neither would the unelected, unaccountable, hyper-expensive shits that occupy the seats of power in the United Soviet States of Europe.
  10. I think that you are seeing the result of an Italian-French EU-level falling out here.
    The Italians recently had to empty Lampedusa before it sank under the weight of Tunisians, and took them to mainland Italy. They tried to squeeze some extra cash out of the EU (Property of France), but got the bum's rush.
    The Italians then thought it was a cute idea to give them a train ticket to France. The French called their bluff.

    Traditionally, the French would have passed them up to Sangatte, and us, but as we are currently bezzer mates with the French, they can't afford to piss us off as well. They think the Eyeties aren't pulling their weight with the bombing, so don't mind shafting them in return.

    Which is cheaper? Using the aid budget to keep foreigners at home, or housing them in London?

    The UK are also being rather crafty on the Refugee ship. We're giving cash to the UN's Institute of Migration, which sends people back to their homelands, on chartered ships. I suspect that most of that lot will find themselves being unloaded in Benghazi. We come out looking like good, UN friendly folks, and the refugees move a short distance East, not north.

    The atached from the Economist gives some useful background.
    North African migration: The next European crisis: boat people | The Economist

    "FOR THE past year excessive sovereign debt has endangered the European project. For the coming year it may be north African boat people who present the greatest danger to European unity.

    The turmoil over illegal migrants is a consequence of the Arab pro-democracy awakening on the far side of the Mediterranean and, perhaps, of the Western military intervention in Libya. According to UNHCR, more than 20,000 boat people have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa this year, almost all of them from Tunisia. More than 800 have arrived in Malta, mostly from Libya.

    At today's meeting of the European Union's interior ministers in Luxembourg, Italy and Malta called on the EU to activate a 2001 directive to grant temporary protection to migrants in cases of “mass influx” and to share the burden of absorbing the newcomers. But ministers flatly turned down the proposal. The European Commission described the call as “premature”, but said the EU was offering “solidarity” in other ways, including money and additional surveillance teams provided by the EU's Frontex border agency.

    Malta would be helped on a voluntary basis in resettling boat people, given its small size and the fact that most of its newcomers are people fleeing war in Libya. Italy is confronted by a bigger wave, but its boat people are mainly economic migrants rather than refugees who have taken to the sea because of the economic crisis in Tunisia after its pro-democracy revolution, and because border controls have become laxer after the downfall of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

    In any case, say fellow ministers, the flow of migrants to Italy is nothing like the influx of refugees into Europe (mainly Germany) during the Balkan wars, in response to which the EU directive was adopted.

    Nonetheless, Roberto Maroni, the Italian interior minister, complained bitterly that the EU had abandoned Italy (video here, in Italian). “I ask myself if it makes sense to continue in this position: of continuing to be part of the European Union, an institution that is activated immediately to save banks, to declare war—but when it is a matter of expressing solidarity with a country in difficulty, such as Italy, it hides.”

    He said that his country had been told: “Dear Italy. It's your business. Manage it on your own.” If this is the attitude of the EU, he declared, “we are better off alone than in bad company.”

    Such comments are not entirely unexpected from a leading member of the anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic Northern League, except that Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, had offered similar sentiments a day earlier during a visit to Lampedusa: “Either Europe is something concrete, or it would be best to part ways”.

    Nobody expects Italy, a founding member of the EU, to begin proceedings to withdraw. Its lashing out at outside foes may be a sign of a political system that is in fibrillation because of the multiple legal cases against Mr Berlusconi (he was in court today, denouncing "leftist" magistrates). Yet the anti-Europe mood has been harsh enough to alarm President Giorgio Napolitano (report here, in Italian).

    Italy is resorting to a ruse that other countries suspect is a blatant attempt to export its problem: granting all arrivals from Tunisia temporary protection in Italy. In theory this would allow them to travel freely throughout the passport-free Schengen area, and most can be expected to take the opportunity to slip across the Alps to other countries, above all to France.

    Over the weekend, the Italian finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, seemed to issue a veiled warning: “A cheque that needs to be honoured has arrived in Italy, but it will not stop in Lampedusa. It will arrive in Germany, in the north and all over Europe.”

    French authorities have already stepped up identity checks in areas near the border with Italy. Claude Guéant, the French interior minister, said about 2,800 Tunisians had been caught so far in the past month, of whom about 1,700 have been expelled back to Italy. He and Mr Maroni met last week to smoothe over their row over the handling of migrants, agreeing to conduct more joint patrols in the Mediterranean.

    But Mr Guéant would not yield on the substance of the disagreement. Italy had a right to issue temporary permits, he said; France had a right to check whether Tunisians arriving from Italy had a proper passport as well as funds to support themselves, as stipulated under Schengen rules. Every country in Schengen had to bear its responsibilities, he said. Italy was not the only country with a migration problem: France had to contend with thousands of illegal Afghan and Pakistani migrants who congregate around Calais to try to slip across the Channel to Britain.

    Others have been more openly critical of Italy. “I was quite dissatisfied with Italy's surprise decision to pass on its problems to all the others without prior notice,” said Gerd Leers, the Dutch minister for immigration and asylum. Austria's interior minister, Maria Fekter, said her country would investigate means of stopping migrants from crossing its borders. Similarly, the German states of Bavaria and Hesse said they might introduce border checks.

    Migration is likely to be a contentious issue at June's European summit (see this paper by the Centre for European Reform). With anti-immigrant parties on the rise across Europe, the dispute has great potential to degenerate.

    Like the euro, which requires mutual trust among members about their readiness to preserve sound public finances, the Schengen area relies on mutual trust about the capacity of members to control their borders and migration flows. But Italy threatens all that: rather than acting as a dam and reservoir for migrants, it would rather be a weir, allowing the human flow to pass over it.

    In the euro crisis, creditors and debtors alike wondered whether they would be better off without the other. Now it is the countries of the Schengen borderless travel area that are starting to question another of Europe's great integration projects."
  11. With the Frogs there's always a bit of arbitrariness in it. I recall back in about '82 doing an express run with a cartload of "happy campers" down to Valras Plage - it's by the Med, just beyond Montpellier. Also on the ferry from Dover was a London coach ram-jam full of dark-skinned citizens - and all in possession of a British passport (according to their driver). They were intending to do no more than go shopping at one of the hypermarkets in Calais and then head back home.

    Or so they thought. For possibly no other reason than his Madame had decided to keep her legs together the previous night, the Frog passport controller just turned the coach around and sent it back on the ferry. They didn't even make it off of the docks, so no cheap booze/fags/baccy or whatever for them!

    What was that about free movement within the EU? I met the driver again a couple of weeks later and he said the reason for the entry refusal was that the passport controller "had reason to suspect that they were all going to stay in France".

    Though it is likely these latest ones on the Eyetie border have been sanctioned fairly high up - and Sarko's lack of popularity just might have something to do with it. Or perhaps Carla has stopped putting out - who knows!
  12. Do you have the link to this paper Hector? I can't find it on their site and quite fancy having a glance at it.
  13. Here, I think
    Centre for European Reform: The June European Council: Migrants on their minds

    The June European Council: Migrants on their minds
    by Hugo Brady

    In June, EU leaders will meet in Brussels for their next quarterly summit chaired by Council President Herman Van Rompuy. Some of them – Britain's David Cameron and France's Nicolas Sarkozy – are currently fighting a war in Libya. Others, like Angela Merkel and Silvio Berlusconi, are facing political upheaval at home. European leaders from both north and south are watching anxiously as the markets continue to pound the euro. But everyone – apart perhaps from the newer members to the east – is worried about immigration. Hence, if events allow, Van Rompuy wants to focus the forthcoming meeting on border control, immigration and refugee policy.

    This could easily become a bad tempered, inconclusive affair. First, the summit is supposed to take a broad strategic view of EU immigration and asylum policies. But instability in North Africa will inevitably skew discussion towards the present. Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, is adamant that his country needs help to manage a "human tsunami" from Libya and Tunisia. Berlusconi's demands for “solidarity” from fellow EU countries essentially mean their agreement to take in some of the 20,000 or so migrants currently housed in tent camps on the island of Lampedusa and in the mainland region of Puglia. The EU has committed money, a humanitarian mission and border guards from its Frontex border agency. Nonetheless, the Italians want more help. The country’s ‘realist’ immigration policy – heavily reliant on co-operation with dictators such as Muammar Gaddafi and Tunisia’s Ben Ali – is in tatters following EU-supported uprisings.

    EU refugee rules say that migrants who claim asylum must be accepted by the first member country they reach. Exceptions can only be made in an emergency if overwhelming numbers suddenly arrive en masse. Although 20,000 is a large number of people, it is nowhere near the influx that followed the 1999 Kosovo war. Then, Albanian Kosovars fled to Western Europe in their hundreds of thousands leading EU governments to provide for some deviation to the first-country-of-arrival rule. Furthermore, several North European countries – including, in this instance, France – typically accept more asylum seekers than Italy, both proportionately and in overall numbers. As it stands, the current situation will not prompt the re-think demanded by Italy, Malta and some other Mediterranean member-states.

    Second, European leaders back an EU immigration policy only in so far as it means tighter border controls and more repatriation. To satisfy this demand, the European Commission has proposed giving Frontex more powers and is due to publish in 2012 a raft of legislation intended to upgrade Schengen area border controls with new technology. EU countries have little interest in the Commission’s other ideas to facilitate more legal immigration, however. This was true even when Europe’s economic conditions were favourable and unemployment relatively low. But the creation of more legal migration routes into the EU, like a single European residency permit, would greatly strengthen the Commission's hand in negotiations with neighbouring countries on border checks and the return of unauthorised immigrants.

    Third, EU leaders have discussed all of these issues before and achieved little. In 2008, they signed a European 'migration pact' at the urging of France, when summit agendas were still set by a different rotating presidency every six months. The pact declared that the free movement of people between EU countries and the existence of the Schengen area of passport-free travel meant that national immigration policies must also be linked. The text committed all member-states to tighter border controls and more repatriation of immigrants illegally resident on their territories. But – like the Union for the Mediterranean agreed the same year – the pact's confident language and forthright assertions failed to make much difference in practice.

    Given that several EU leaders are vulnerable to political challenges at home from the far right, the temptation to push immigration policy upwards to the European level is understandable. But the idea that 'Europe' will help to reduce illegal immigration dramatically is largely an illusion. An EU immigration policy will not of itself drastically decrease the numbers of unskilled migrants arriving on European shores or over-staying tourist visas. Immigration trends are driven by so-called push and pull factors: disparities of wealth, the contrast between instability at home and the high quality of life in Europe, and demand for cheap labour. And even enlightened policies aimed at discouraging emigration from migrants' home countries – trade liberalisation and development aid – tend to produce ambiguous effects. Conditions improve in the poorer country but so too does the mobility of its people and their aspiration for a better life abroad.

    With maddening constraints like these, what can Van Rompuy credibly hope to achieve in June? To start with, he can try to steer the talks away from demands for solidarity to a concept he has stressed during the eurozone crisis: mutual responsibility. In the immigration context, this would mean that EU countries need to work together much more pro-actively to prevent future migratory pressures endangering free movement and passport-free travel. One idea would be to create bilateral partnerships between EU countries that struggle to maintain the external border and those that have resources to spare or face less migratory pressure. These partnerships would involve core teams of experts with the relevant skills being seconded to external border countries for long periods. In addition, Van Rompuy could open a debate on whether the creation of a European border guard – EU officials with powers to direct Schengen country border controls – might be necessary.

    The EU has four funds for helping member-states to return illegal immigrants, integrate minorities, care for refugees and maintain modern border controls. Taken together, these account for 0.5 per cent (around €550 million) of the EU's annual budget. With inward migration to Europe more likely to rise than fall in the coming years, President Van Rompuy could propose to the assembled leaders that they agree now to double the amount of money allocated to these funds in the next EU multi-annual budget for 2014-2021.

    Lastly, Van Rompuy could take forward calls from Germany for the EU to conclude 'mobility partnerships' on immigration with Egypt and Tunisia. These are agreements – managed by the European Commission – whereby some EU countries offer temporary work visas to citizens of a country that, in return, collaborates on border checks and repatriation. Here Van Rompuy could go further and propose that those countries that adhere in practice to UN accords banning the use of torture and providing for refugee protection would be entitled to much more generous terms than those that do not. By encouraging neighbouring countries to treat their own refugees better, the EU would begin to extend the concept of mutual responsibility beyond its own borders. When ready, Libya too should be offered this choice.

    The president of the European Council might consider these initiatives too piecemeal to offer to EU leaders as solutions to their immigration worries. They do not amount to a grand European bargain on migration. But, as he watches the black cars pull up in June, Van Rompuy might recall a favourite motto of Pope John 23rd: "See all. Forgive much. Change a little."

    Hugo Brady is a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform.