Monday, July 7, 2008

EU Accepts French Immigration Proposal

The EU has acceded, with some important modifications, to France's proposal on immigration reform. The modifications involved a ban on mass regularizations, such as that carried out by Spain in 2005, and a rejection of the French insistence on "integration contracts" that would have required immigrants to promise to learn the host country's language and take other steps toward assimilation. The amendment allows countries to adopt whatever assimilation policies they wish.

But the significance of the agreement has less to do with the specific provisions than with the existence of any agreement at all. The news is that Europe has adopted a common approach to immigration, which concedes that immigration cannot be unlimited. To be sure, none of the practical proposals for setting limits is likely to work, so the agreement belongs more in the category of pious wish than of policy. Will any more concrete policies follow from this agreement in principle? Probably, but I would be surprised if they are very far-reaching.

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