Italy and France are on the same wavelength in terms of tightening the EU's policy on combating illegal immigration and intend to make that clear to their partners at the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council, on 25-26 February in Brussels.
French Immigration Minister Eric Besson and his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, met in Paris, on 16 February, and decided to "coordinate their efforts to secure an urgent strengthening of the EU's external borders against illegal immigration". Rome and Paris had already argued together for the organisation of "European charters" to return illegal immigrants to their home country or the country of transit. They now recommend a twofold goal: to develop the operating capacities of Frontex, the EU's border control agency, with a view to setting up the "European border police provided for in the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum;" and to multiply "operational cooperation and readmission agreements with the main countries of origin and transit". The two countries are referring mainly to Libya, which has become the leading route to Europe for immigrants from the Horn of Africa.
Besson and Frattini issued a statement that refers to the organisation of an "extraordinary meeting of European ministers on the question of combating illegal immigration in the Mediterranean". Indeed, after the discovery of 123 Kurds on a beach in Corsica in January, Besson asked the Spanish EU Presidency to...