Friday, December 01, 2006

While we were away…

Unfortunately, even if you ignore something as unimportant and as tedious as the European Union, it doesn't go away. We've been trying it here for a few weeks, while we concentrated on important things – but it simply doesn't work.

So, you look up and look around, and there is still that tiresome little Italian, Franco Frattini, the so-called EU "justice" commissioner – a laughable title that actually implies that the EU knows anything about or has anything to do with justice.

Anyhow, as befits his station in life, he is making a nuisance of himself; suggesting that employers who give jobs to illegal immigrants in the European Union should face fines or even imprisonment.

This is according to the Financial Times, which always treats its readers like children. It is telling us that there are "legislative plans being considered by Brussels", stopping short of actually giving us any useful information – like whether it is a formal proposal or just Frattini indulging in one of his many flights of fantasy.

With the appetite whetted, therefore, it's off to Google in an attempt to find out what is really going on – three words in the string should do it – "Frattini", "Europa" and "immigration". The trick is always to include the word "Europa" which gets you inside the EU commission site. It is pointless using the Europa site search engine – like its owners, it is worse than useless.

Anyhow, that string gets us close and with a few tweaks we get to this. It isn't quite want we wanted, but looks interesting. The heading is: "strengthening the comprehensive European migration policy and providing new impetus".

I can't believe I actually wrote that… interesting?! That must be me speaking to my inner nerd.

Then we get to see the phrases, "Migration Support Teams", "European Job Mobility Portals", and "European surveillance system" You know this is important, but the brain starts shrivelling, rebelling at the prospect of digging deeper.

Even though this isn't as bad as some, anyone who writes this stuff – or even thinks about writing this stuff – should have been shot at birth. We are not talking about human being here. They have to be aliens.

The bottom of the page looms and commissioner Frattini invites us to his website for more information about his work. One click and we're there, but the site turns out to be a load of PR bullshit so we go back to whence we came.

A little bit more digging and we find this, and it is definitely what we are looking for: "Strengthening the comprehensive European migration policy". You get the flavour from the first full paragraph:

Dealing effectively with migration pressures in the interest of its Member States and citizens is an absolute priority for the European Union. The policy needs to be cross-border, comprehensive and integrated, involving various policy areas of the EU. Flowing from this recognition and in the light of mounting migratory pressures, the European Commission presented today its Communication "The Global Approach to Migration one year on", containing several new proposals to step up the EU's strategy towards migration. The Communication is presented also in view of the discussions on this issue by the European Council on 14 and 15 December.
Buried in there, also, is the key information. There is a "Communication" (the magic word, we nerds know to look for), and it's called. "The Global Approach to Migration one year on".

The summary which follows tells us that:

The Commission considers that legal migration and integration policies should be brought into the Global Approach more explicitly, while fully respecting the division of competences between the European Community and the Member States.
A power grab is in progress, but we need more detail so it is back to Google to key in the title. Bugger! All we get is a balls-aching speech from Frattini that only a seriously super-nerd would want to read, and the URL back to the site we've just come from. Dead end.

So, we've got a "com" title, but no link and nothing shows up on Google – they haven't put it on the net yet. God! I do hate it when they do that. I could go into the Europa site – where angels fear to tread… it wasn't so bad until they made it user-friendly. But it's gone midnight and I simply can't be arsed - a fishing expedition may take an hour or more. It's been a long day.

That brings us back to the Financial Times story and there may be enough there to enable us to fudge our own piece, giving the impression we know what we're taking about. But no! They're having the same trouble – they haven't seen the "com" either and they're winging it from the press release, with a lot of general, fluffy material.

So there we are folks. Immigration is on the commission's agenda - as if we didn't already know. They're proposing to do something, but we don't know quite what, and they're not in the mood to tell us – except they will fully respect "the division of competences between the European Community and the Member States".

That, we all know, is one of those glib lies, from the same stable as "the cheque's in the post". That's "check", for our American friends, who can't handle fancy spelling like wot we can.

One thing we do learn from the FT though is that the detailed measures will not be announced until next May or June. If only I had read that at the beginning, it would have saved a lot of time. We can go back to sleep on this one, in the full knowledge that, by the time the full proposals come along, they will be cast in stone and it will be the devil's own job changing them. "But you should have commented earlier, Monsieur," they will say.

Did I say that the EU was tedious?

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