EU Immigration Rules ‘Draconian’: Morales

EU immigration rules 'draconian': Morales

16 June 2008, 11:08 CET

(LONDON) – Bolivian President Evo Morales called on European leaders to drop “draconian” new rules on immigration, and warned in a comment piece Monday that his country would impose the same rules on Europeans if the measures were approved.

Writing in The Guardian, Morales noted that the European Union was the main destination for migrants from around the world “because of its positive image of space, prosperity and public freedom.”

He said most of the migrants in the 27-nation bloc “contribute to, rather than exploit, this prosperity” and said immigrants to the EU offer “a solution to demographic and financial problems in the EU.”

Morales also acknowledged that emigrants from poor countries played a crucial role through remittances home, noting that most developed countries failed to live up to targets for development assistance.

He claimed that the EU's proposed plans on immigration were a “huge infringement” on migrants' human rights, and warned that if they were to become law, Bolivia would not be able to “deepen (trade) negotiations with the EU”.

Morales described the rules as “hypocritical, draconian and undiplomatic”.

The Bolivian leader added that his country would “reserve the right to legislate so European citizens have the same obligations for visas that Europe imposes on the Bolivians, according to the diplomatic principle of reciprocity.”

“I appeal to European leaders to drop this directive and instead form a migration policy that respects human rights, and allows us to maintain the movement of people that helps both continents,” he wrote.

EU leaders approved the immigration plans earlier this month, which could see visa-overstayers banned for five years if they resisted, and would oblige authorities to choose between issuing residency or other permits to illegal immigrants or returning them to their countries of origin.

The plans are yet to be signed off by the European parliament, and Morales took greatest issue with powers that would allow authorities to keep individuals in custody for up to 18 months under exceptional circumstances, particularly if they were deemed likely to run away.