Barroso : Confident Italy Is In Line With Immigration Principles

Barroso: Confident Italy is in line with EU immigration principles

Jul 15, 2008, 14:15 GMT

Rome – European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed confidence Tuesday that Italy's immigration polices would be in line with the European Union's principles of integration.

'I have full confidence in the democratic state of Italy,' Barroso said following talks with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome.

The two attended a news conference where they were asked questions on the Italian government's plans to make illegal immigration a crime and to fingerprint ethnic Roma, including children – a move condemned as 'discriminatory' by the European Parliament last week.

Berlusconi defended the fingerprinting policy which he said would allow the government to know how many members of the Roma community live in shanty-towns and camps around Italy.

'We also need to know who these (Roma) children are to guarantee that they can go to school, What we are doing is defending the right (of children) to go to school,' Berlusconi said.

Referring to immigration and the fingerprinting proposal, Barroso said that the European Commission, the EU's executive, would carry out its duty, which is to 'assess the compatibility of individual member states' laws with the principles of the European Union.'

Italy, which like other EU states has to protect it citizens while being 'humanist, generous and integrating to those coming to Europe,' would solve the issue in a way that 'is compatible with those principles,' Barroso said.

'Immigrants must also make an effort to become integrated,' he added.

In their meeting Berlusconi and Barroso also discussed the EU's Treaty of Lisbon reforms which, the premier said, would be ratified 'soon' by the Italian parliament.

Italy would also back Barroso for another term as European Commission president, Berlusconi said.