Brussels wants a bigger say on migrants

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The Independent Online
STRASBOURG - The European Commission intends to become more involved in immigration and justice, the European parliament was told yesterday, writes Andrew Marshall.

Raniero Vanni D'Archirafi, Internal Market Commissioner, said he might examine the exclusion order on John Matthews, who was acquitted of the attempted bombing of Downing Street.

Padraig Flynn, Commissioner for Social Affairs, will follow immigration policy which, coming within the Maastricht treaty is subject to co-operation between governments, with the Commission and the European Parliament playing mainly consultative roles.

This was one of the most important areas in the intergovernmental conference of 1991, where Britain fought to keep the Commission out of immigration policy, justice and police work. But yesterday's statements suggest this may be more difficult in practice. Mr Flynn said that the Commission would play an active role, promoting the rights of immigrants within the Community, harmonising rules on asylum and family reunion, and fighting illegal immigration.

He added that a change in the EC's rules was pending in 1996.

Willy Claes, Belgium's Foreign Minister, also said it was essential to bring home and justice affairs within the same structure as other areas of EC policy during Belgium's presidency of the EC. 'The Presidency will do its utmost to encourage the Commission's new right of initiative,' says Belgium's plan for the next six months.

The Parliament and the Commission want a greater role partly because they suspect governments will block progress in this area.

Mr Vanni D'Archirafi was put under pressure by members of the European parliament over the EC's failure to open its borders to the movement of people. Britain says it wants the frontiers to stay, and other EC states have been slow to act. Mr Vanni D'Archirafi said that legal action against states now would be counterproductive.

'It will only move things in the wrong direction,' he said.

Mr Vanni D'Archirafi said that Britain and the other states which are blocking progress on removing passport controls would have to yield.