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European co-operation needed to tackle immigration

February 11, 2003 12:00 AM

West Midlands Euro-MP Liz Lynne is supporting calls in the European Parliament today for a common EU policy to regulate economic migration.

The Terron Report calls for the Commission to draft a directive "on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of paid employment and self-employed economic activities". Liberal Democrat MEP Liz Lynne is supporting this, and calling on the UK Government to support it as well, despite the UK's opt out on EU immigration policy.

Liz Lynne said:

"We need a twin track approach to immigration policy. The first is to recognise that asylum seekers and refugees are a natural consequence of conflict, and therefore we must work positively to help ensure international stability. We should not be surprised, for example, if the Iraq crisis leads to a significant increase of Iraqis attempting to reach European countries, and we must take responsibility for that."

"The second track is to develop a legally managed route for some legitimate economic migrants to find work and enter the country on short term contracts where there are no workers from that Member State to fill those particular jobs. By fooling ourselves that we can simply raise the drawbridge, we close ourselves off to significant economic advantages in terms of gaining skills and workers from overseas. Furthermore, we drive the whole process underground, where it is practically impossible to regulate, and throw desperate people into the arms of organised crime. It is always preferable to have people entering the country by the front door and not the back.

"The EU is the right level for determining policy on economic migrants, although the decision on how many immigrants enter each member state must be left to that individual country. We need to ensure common procedures and rules to ensure a level playing field. In the modern world, as the Sangatte debacle has shown, immigration policy cannot simply be imposed at the national boundary - it is vital that we gain pan-European co-operation on this."

"I hope the UK Government will see this Report as the opportunity it really is, and work with its EU-partners to ensure that it is a success. This should be a first step to achieving a European-wide Common Asylum and Immigration Policy."