France Leads EU Push To Bar Amnesties For Illegal Migrants

France leads EU push to bar amnesties for illegal migrants

13 May 2008, 20:07 CET

(PARIS) – France wants the European Union to bar mass amnesties for illegal migrants as part of a common immigration policy to be agreed during the upcoming French presidency of the EU, ministers said Tuesday.

Drafting an EU immigration charter is a priority of France's six-month presidency of the bloc, starting on July 1, said Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and the junior minister for European affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet.

“The principle is that indeed we should agree, all 27 of us, that there should be no mass blanket amnesty that could affect the situation in one member state or another,” said Jouyet.

“And if there were to be amnesties, it must be ensured that we receive notice, that there is an exchange of information and that we are well aware of the impact,” he added.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has spoken out against broad amnesties declared unilaterally by some EU countries such as Spain, arguing that the bloc's open borders mean a single state's policy affects it as a whole.

Spain granted an amnesty for around 600,000 illegal immigrants in 2005 and is facing pressure to restrict immigration as the economy cools.

Italy granted residency to half a million illegal immigrants a year later but Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's new right-wing government is preparing an arsenal of anti-immigration measures.