Letter: A common immigration policy for Europe

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Sir: The proposals for a new European immigration and asylum policy, advanced by Commissioner Padraig Flynn ('Rights boost for Europe's immigrants', 28 January), merit serious consideration.

It is clear that free movement of goods, capital, services and people throughout the European Union requires a common policy; and it is better that a common policy should be based on the harmonisation of best practice, rather than a process of levelling down to the lowest standards in the belief that this will appease anti-immigrant prejudice.

Existing policies on immigration are being devised in undemocratic, secretive, inter-governmental bodies outside the European Union. Decisions on immigration and asylum ought to be subject to rigorous democratic scrutiny; and the UK should be taking the lead in pressing for greater transparency and accountability.

Over the next decade the European Union is likely to come under growing pressure from migrants and asylum-seekers from the South and Eastern Europe. It is therefore only sensible that the European Union should adopt policies that will both weaken the appeal of xenophobic and racist parties and treat Europe's immigrant communities with decency and fairness. As the Commission document suggests, the rights of existing immigrants need to be safeguarded and anti-discrimination laws strengthened. These measures would do a great deal to help integrate Europe's immigrant communities.

The measures set out in the Commissioner Flynn's document are the most balanced proposals yet produced for a common European immigration and asylum policy. They demand from our own government a reasoned and well-measured response.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Nottingham North (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

28 January

The writer is shadow minister for home affairs.

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