Government signing 'blank cheque' over euro immigration and asylum policy...

December 01, 2003

Britain is in grave danger of signing a 'blank cheque' on immigration and asylum and handing control of this sensitive issue to Europe if current proposals contained in the draft EU Constitution are accepted. This would be a fundamental surrender of national sovereignty on a scale completely unknown in our history.

That is the view of independent think-tank Migrationwatch which, in a
new research paper published on its web site, says that it is clear that at present the Government has achieved virtually nothing in this part of the negotiation. Nearly all of their amendments have been rejected.

Said Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch: 'The Government
are keeping as quiet as possible on this subject - and for good reason. The British delegation have been ignored and we are now expected simply to sign up to European laws which have not yet even been
drafted. When they are they will be subject to Qualified Majority Voting under which we will have less than 10% of the votes.

'It follows that the laws governing the protection of our borders and
the right of foreigners to enter and reside in Britain will no longer be
in our own hands.  It is time that the government set out honestly what
is involved.'

Sir Andrew said that no language has been agreed on the preservation
of the "opt out" that permits us to retain our own border controls; Britain has proposed, but not achieved, a complete re-draft of the Article on asylum, and the Article on immigration hands over to European Law issues of great importance and domestic sensitivity which will be decided by Qualified Majority Voting under which Britain has only 29 votes, compared to the 88 required to block an unwelcome proposal.

'Experience to date in dealing with Europe on asylum and immigration matters has not been encouraging,' he said. 'Our European partners have rejected British ideas for exerting EU economic pressure to
achieve repatriation agreements. They have also effectively turned
down suggestions for processing asylum seekers outside the
European Union.'

Sir Andrew said many of the arguments put forward in support of handing over control to Brussels are deeply flawed.

He said the Government claimed that this is a 'European problem' requiring European solutions.

'This is a shallow analysis because the reality is that Britain's situation is entirely different from that of our European partners, demographically, geographically, administratively and historically,' he said.

Some major European countries, such as Italy or Germany have a very low birth rate of about 1.1. In Britain, our birth rate is 1.65 - short of the replacement rate of 2.1 but very different in demographic terms from the situation of Italy or Germany. Sir Andrew said the fact is that our population is not declining. It is set to grow by at least four million over the next 25 years - even on a very cautious assumption about immigration.

Nor is our work force declining. It would continue to increase for the next 20 years, even if there were no immigration at all, mainly because women will work longer. Furthermore, the South East of England where, on present patterns, three quarters of migrants settle is one of the most crowded areas of Europe.

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