Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Europe Must Not Fail

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Europe Must Not Fail

Article excerpt

TONY BLAIR spoke with admirable frankness yesterday when he said that asylum and immigration will be at the heart of the EU summit in Seville this weekend as far as Britain is concerned. He has the full support of the summit host, Spain's President Jose Aznar and both Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroder of Germany. All agree that the continent needs to move forward faster in agreeing swift and equitable solutions to problems arising from migration. This is a modest advance - given that which have, since the end of the Cold War been shunted from one government to another. The British proposals in Seville are grouped around the notion of "positive conditionality" according to which technical and financial help to poorer countries would be dependent on them helping to deter illegal migration. This has been faulted - not least by the Development Secretary Clare Short, on the grounds that many poor countries do not have the ability to control emigration. Mr Blair is nonetheless right to draw attention to the stubborn refusal of some countries - China is a major offender - who refuse to accept back failed asylum seekers. Even here, the individual aid and trade interests of the various countries are at odds. France, Luxemburg and Sweden have opposed the package of measures for varying reasons. The usual late night horse-trading will follow - although the large majority of the new President, Jacques Chirac, in France, may well allow him to play a more consistent hand than his predecessor, Lionel Jospin, whose domestic weakness allowed the Sangatte refugee camp to become a major clash in Anglo-French relations. It is particularly important that some visible advance is made on the matter this weekend, given that the EU is - a second Irish referendum permitting - on the brink of its enlargement to the first wave of 10 new members in December. The resurgence of parties of the right, sceptical of the benefits of any immigration, make it particularly important that institutional Europe is not seen to fail. If it does, the argument will be lost by default to those who will wish only for a Fortress Europe That would leave us all the poorer. …

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