Wednesday, March 7, 2012
President Sarkozy says France has too many foreigners as he fights for his political life in French election, time for EU internal immigration policy
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in a fight for his political life at present, his chances of re-election aren’t great and he is under real pressure.
When politicians are sometimes under pressure they are forced to listen to their constituents concerns and address real problems that require real solutions.
For sometime I have been highlighting how the European Union is a great thing but it is also badly in need of repair.
Expansion to bring more countries within the EU has created many problems financially, structurally and of social cohesion.
What is needed is major overhaul of the European project.
Sarkozy says that there are too many foreigners in France and the system for integrating them is "working more and more badly".
The underline reasons are economics and uncontrolled immigration.
It is time that the European Union moved to having an internal policy within the 27 states.
So what is an internal immigration policy and how does it work?
Under the present rules there is free movement of Labour, not a bad idea on the surface but problems arise when people moving cannot support themselves and have insufficient funds to live properly.
Hence in Britain and Europe we have seen slums; squatter’s camps and people living under bridges, sleeping out in the open.
This cannot have been the intention of the original policy.
Illegal immigration from out with Europe is also a serious problem.
All these problems are solvable but the political will to fix them requires real strength of character.
In a TV debate, Sarkozy has defended his plan to almost halve the number of new arrivals if re-elected next month.
This is to appear tough, but Sarkozy’s attempts are very much like a blunt sword being swung on issues that require a scalpel and delicate thought.
The sudden urge to be tough by Sarkozy who is trailing in the opinion polls behind the Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is all about saving his neck.
But aside from his personal problems, there is a wider issue, the economic crisis in the Euro zone is an opportunity to make Europe stronger for all its citizens.
In the short term there will be difficult choices as major overhaul means restructuring of institutions which will have a knock on effect to individual countries.
Sarkozy also faces having to compete for conservative voters with the far-right National Front party led by Marine Le Pen.
This is difficult ground to be sitting on for Sarkozy, because the politics of Le Pen in some ways hark back to less sophisticated politics.
Immigration is a good thing, but when it gets out of hand politicians like Le Pen emerge who wish to go too far from striking what is the right balance under law.
In treading a dangerous line the French President said while immigration could be a boon for France, it needed to be controlled more tightly through tougher qualification rules for residency.
This isn’t just a French problem, it is a European problem.
Sarkozy, whose father was a Hungarian immigrant, also said he wanted to restrict some benefit payments to immigrants who had been in the country for 10 years.
This is wrong, anyone and everyone who is legally within the borders of an EU must be treated the same as an indigenous person.
If an internal EU immigration policy was adopted many problems could be solved, Sarkozy maybe starting the debate to save his own neck but it really is a bigger place.
Sarkozy has dabbled in immigration issues before in 2005, just before the Paris riots, he described young delinquents in the Paris suburbs as "racaille", meaning rabble.
An unhappy rabble with legitimate grievances that cannot fight work and experience a lack of social opportunities!
As president, Sarkozy has already pushed through tough new immigration rules, including the controversial deportation of Roma gypsies.
The latest opinion poll published on Tuesday by CSA showed the Socialist leader Francois Hollande widening his lead over President Sarkozy for the 22 April vote.
It also suggested that the Socialist leader would win decisively by 54% to 46% in a second round of voting on 6 May.
Sarkozy is desperate, the tide is turning away from him, whether it is too late to save his presidency remains to be seen, but regardless of how wins the French election the underlining problems of Europe won’t be going away.
A move to an internal immigration policy within the European Union which builds in safeguards for countries within the 27 member states is well over due and sorely needed.
We need a strong leader to speak up and put this on the political agenda, spelling out how the current problem is hampering stability and then showing how to fix the problems.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University