Asylum and immigrationThe Council devoted the entire morning of the first day to illegal immigration, examining draft Conclusions from the Spanish Presidency.There were four component to the Conclusions: the asylum and immigration legislative package, the illegal immigration action plan, the external border controls plan, and co-operation with third countries. Spain was confident of securing agreement on its text, although France, Sweden, Belgium, Finland and Luxembourg were voicing reservations on the grounds that it was too hard-line. The final text is due to be agreed the following day.Third countries.It was the question of relations with third countries that proved most controversial. Spain tabled draft Conclusions saying that any future EU co-operation agreements with a non-EU state must contain a clause on migratory flows. If this agreement is infringed, the EU could decide - unanimously - to take counter-measures such as suspending the trade concession of such an agreement. However, this tough stance is tempered somewhat by a reference to the broader aim of such agreements, namely to reduce poverty in these states. No specific problem countries were going to be named, although Mr Pique said that as far as Spain was concerned, the Mediterranean states and sub-Saharan Africa would be a priority.Cox says more carrot, less stick.European Parliament President, Pat Cox, who also addressed the Council on the illegal immigration question, warned the leaders against taking too repressive a stance: "Sanctions could be counter-productive by merely creating further migration", he said. He pointed out that the number of legal immigrants in the EU - 13 million - far outweighed the illegal immigrant total, which he put at 500,000. He supported making a link between immigration policy and development aid, but stressed it should be a positive link. In other words, those countries who do co-operate should be rewarded with increases in the development aid allocated to them. "Otherwise we risk catching the virus of the extreme right", he said.Contents of the package.The asylum and immigration package consists of a series of legislative proposals that the Commission put on the table months or even years ago, but which have failed to progress through the Council of Ministers. These are: draft Directives on the definition of refugee and on asylum procedures, a draft Regulation on asylum responsibility (integrating the Dublin Convention into EU law) and...

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