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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    Italy & France Facing Illegal Immigration Crisis

    Why aren't they embracing the impact illegal immigrants have like we are supposed to? Is the multi-cultural kumbayah music no longer playing in the Socialist Bloc? ... b-protests
    France and Italy in call to close EU borders in wake of Arab protests

    Sarkozy and Berlusconi are demanding European deportation pacts with the countries of revolutionary north Africa to send migrants home.

    France and Italy have thrown down the gauntlet over Europe's system of passport-free travel, saying a crisis of immigration sparked by the Arab spring was calling into question the borderless regime enjoyed by more than 400 million people in 25 countries.

    Challenging one of the biggest achievements of European integration of recent decades, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi also launched a joint effort to stem immigration and demanded European deportation pacts with the countries of revolutionary north Africa to send new arrivals packing.

    The French president and the Italian prime minister, at a summit in Rome, opted to pile the pressure on Brussels and the governments of the other 25 EU states, demanding an "in-depth revision" of European law regulating the passport-free travel that takes in almost all of the EU with the exception of Britain and Ireland.

    Prompted by the influx to Italy of almost 30,000 immigrants, mainly from Tunisia, in recent months, the two leaders warned that the upheavals in north Africa "could swiftly become an out-and-out crisis capable of undermining the trust our fellow citizens place in the free circulation within the Schengen area".

    The passport-free travel system known as the Schengen regime was agreed by a handful of countries in 1985 and put into practice in 1995. Since then it has been embraced by 22 EU countries as well as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, but spurned by Britain and Ireland. It is widely seen, along with the euro single currency, as Europe's signature unification project of recent decades.

    But like the euro, fighting its biggest crisis over the past year, the Schengen regime is being tested amid mounting populism and the renationalisation of politics across the EU.

    In other setbacks to borderless Europe, Germany, France and other countries have been blocking the admission of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen in recent months, while the arrival of thousands of Middle Eastern migrants in Greece has fed exasperation with Athens's inability to control the EU's southern border.The Franco-Italian move, following weeks of bad-tempered exchanges between Paris and Rome over how to deal with the Tunisian influx, is the biggest threat yet to the Schengen regime.

    "For the treaty to stay alive, it must be reformed," Sarkozy said. Berlusconi added: "We both believe that in exceptional circumstances there should be variations to the Schengen treaty."

    They sent a joint letter to the European commission and European council chiefs, José Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, urging proposals from Brussels and agreement on a new system at an EU summit of government heads in June.

    The commission said it was drawing up new proposals, tinkering with the current system, to be unveiled next week. But it has resisted, with the support of most EU governments, intense Italian pressure to label the arrivals from north Africa an emergency.

    Under European law the border-free regime can be suspended only for reasons of national security, routinely invoked in recent years by member states hosting major international sporting events such as the World Cup or the European football championships, where individual countries contend with a huge, one-off influx of foreigners.

    Sarkozy and Berlusconi insisted the rules be changed to allow more restrictions on freedom of travel. A new deal was "indispensable", they said. The June summit should "examine the possibility of temporarily re-establishing internal frontier controls in case of exceptional difficulty in the management of the [EU's] common external frontiers".

    This, however, would clearly not be in the interests of Italy, which fears an end to the hostilities in Libya could spark an even bigger exodus. In that event, the letter said, the EU should provide "mechanisms of specific solidarity" including the distribution of immigrants among member states.
    This will prove extremely divisive and will be rejected by countries such as Germany and Sweden, which have much higher numbers of asylum seekers than Italy, less restrictive immigration policies, and little sympathy for Italy's plight.

    The concerted Franco-Italian initiative also called for accords between the EU and north African countries on repatriating immigrants, a policy certain to spark outrage among human rights groups, the refugee lobby, and more liberal EU governments.

    Promising strong support for the democratic revolutions sweeping the Maghreb and the Middle East, Sarkozy and Berlusconi added: "In exchange we have the right to expect from our partner countries a commitment to a rapid and efficacious co-operation with the European Union and its member states in fighting illegal immigration."Tuesday's move followed weeks of feuding between Rome and Paris over the Tunisian exodus. Furious at the failure of other EU countries to "share the burden", the Italians granted visas to the immigrants enabling them to move elsewhere in the EU. The Germans and the Austrians complained. The Belgians accused Rome of "cheating" on the Schengen rulebook. The French government promptly closed a part of the border with Italy briefly, re-erecting passport controls to halt trains.But Berlusconi and Sarkozy, seeking to curry favour with the strong far-right constituencies in both countries, sought to bury their differences by urging the rest of Europe to buy into their anti-immigration agenda.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    Sarkozy party chief: France can’t afford migrants

    By Associated Press
    Wednesday, April 27, 2011 -

    PARIS — France cannot afford to take in waves of North African migrants looking for jobs, the head of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party argued today, as European neighbors spar over what to do with thousands of unemployed Tunisians who have arrived illegally on this border-free continent.
    Jean-Francois Cope said in an interview that France wants to revise Europe’s open-border system because of economics, not xenophobia.

    "Do we have the means to absorb job-related immigration? The answer is largely no," the chief of the UMP party told The Associated Press.

    France’s government debt is more than half of its gross domestic product, and unemployment is nearly 10 percent. Joblessness is even higher among unskilled youth, which bodes ill for the largely unskilled young Tunisians clamoring to get here.

    France and Italy have been at odds over how to deal with more than 20,000 illegal Tunisian migrants who entered the European Union via the small Italian island of Lampedusa since the longtime president fled a popular revolt in January. Most want to reach France, Tunisia’s former colonial ruler, where they can speak the language and have friends or family.

    Italy granted most of the Tunisians temporary residency permits, and insisted that EU countries share the burden of such an exceptional influx. In response, an angry France last week stopped a train carrying Tunisian immigrants from Italy at the French border, sending back those who could not support themselves financially.

    Sarkozy and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi agreed at talks Tuesday to seek a revision of the Schengen border treaty that permits passport-free travel through Europe.

    Germany indicated Wednesday that it’s prepared to consider limited revisions to the treaty, but that Italy should take care of the Tunisians.

    Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday: "if we can improve the Schengen system, then that’s good and we should do it — but freedom to travel in Europe is such an important achievement that it must not be called in question."

    A German Interior Ministry spokesman, Jens Teschke, said: "We don’t see in the 26,000 who have landed on Lampedusa an excessive burden on (Italy) — in principle, these refugees can for now be spread out across Italy," he said.

    France’s Cope insisted that any revision of the Schengen treaty would not contradict the idea of a unified Europe.

    "The measures we are taking are linked to the economic and budgetary situation," he said.

    France’s resurgent far-right National Front party has argued for closing France’s borders with European neighbors, a move that Cope said would be dangerous and a "joke."

    Sarkozy’s UMP party has been bleeding support ahead of presidential elections next year, and Cope has been accused of pandering to far-right voters to try to counter the rising popularity of the anti-immigrant National Front. He was the driving force behind France’s ban on the face-covering Islamic veil, and recently proposed other measures aimed at France’s at least 5-million-strong Muslim community, the largest in western Europe.

    Cope sought to distance himself Wednesday from the far right, insisting that the measures are aimed at preventing extremism and encouraging integration.

    France is still seen as a promised land for many North Africans. Joblessness was high in Tunisia before the uprising there, and many sectors have suffered from the political uncertainty since.

    Tunisia’s interim prime minister, Beji Caid Essebsi, pleaded with his countrymen to end the migratory flux.

    "We were at the origin of a crisis between European countries," he said at a news conference Tuesday. "We must control our frontiers and block the road to specialists in human trafficking," he said. ... rticleFull
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