Friday, 2 March 2012

Common EU immigration and asylum policy

There will be a meeting of the EU's Justice And Home Affairs Council next Thursday and Friday. Near the top of the agenda are debates on a common European asylum system and a proposal for an EU directive on conditions of entry and residence for nationals of countries outside the EU. One might have imagined a noisy response from Eurosceptics in Westminster, but I guess there is a long way between a recommendation from the Council to a directive's being considered by the Council of Ministers. In any case, I can see this being bogged down in discussion in the Justice Council, because of the wide discrepancies between existing national policies. In general, the Nordic nations have a liberal policy towards refugees and other immigrants, while there are other European countries which are deeply suspicious of incomers (and I am not thinking of the UK here). Those EU nations with a Mediterranean coast have peculiar difficulties because they are the easiest point of entry for economic migrants from Africa.

Another consideration is how any EU law in this area is to be policed. We have already seen how patchy our own Borders Agency performance has been, and this is in one of the more prosperous EU members. If the policy is to be tightened, will, say, Greece be up to the increased demands?

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