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Set a good example

Posted by Richard Friday, August 20, 2004

Olympics aside, the great entertainment throughout the EU at the moment is reading the advice the media is giving in each country to its new commissioners. A wonderful example of this new sport comes from La Stampa, which is urging its man, Rocco Buttiglione, to ensure his country sets a "good example" on immigration.

The newspaper bemoans that fact that jurisdiction over immigration remains "solidly in the hands of national governments", arguing that 25 national laws on immigration now in force in the Union often appear totally unrealistic. It is this diversity, it believes, that has led to "buck-passing" and is responsible for “the tragedies that happened off our shores”.

It clearly wants an EU-wide immigration policy, but the underlying agenda is that it wants the other member states to contribute to the cost of patrolling the country's extensive maritime border. To assist in achieving that, it calls for Buttiglione to tell his own government to set a good example.

It wants him to ensure that Italy co-ordinates its asylum policies with its neighbours, to lift restrictions on the enlargement nations so that these countries might support Italy in seeking to get all member states to share in the costs of patrolling the borders, and thirdly, it should set a step up inspections of workplaces, aiming to discourage illegal immigrants by preventing them working when they arrive. To make his voice heard in Brussels, therefore, he must first make his voice heard in Rome.

Interesting perspective that - one wonders how the British media would react if Mandelson tried the same strategy.