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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 17:58 GMT
EU-wide migration policy 'needed'
Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy
The two leaders are due to discuss immigration
Nicolas Sarkozy has called on the UK to sign up to a common immigration policy with other EU nations.

The UK has opted-out of much EU immigration law in favour of its own border controls.

But the French President said a joint policy was the only way to stem migrant flows from Africa and central Europe.

Mr Sarkozy - on a state visit to the UK - plans to make immigration a key theme of France's EU Presidency in July.

He wants all EU nations to sign a "European immigration pact" aimed at repatriating more illegal immigrants, particularly to African nations, and strengthening border controls.

It would also rule out mass amnesties for illegal immigrants.

Limited role

The UK is introducing its own points-based system for non-EU migrants and maintains its own list of safe countries for asylum returns.

It has agreed to work more closely with France on tackling illegal immigration and people-smuggling gangs.

Do you think we can contain the migratory waves from central Europe and Africa working against one another or working together?
Nicolas Sarkozy
President of France

But successive government have resisted calls to join the borderless Schengen area, which now covers 24 European countries, meaning the UK can only play a limited role in the EU border patrol force Frontex.

The UK has also retained opt-outs and opt-ins from the common immigration policy set out in the Lisbon treaty, which aims for "the gradual introduction of an integrated management system for [EU] external borders".

In a special address to both Houses of Parliament at Westminster, Mr Sarkozy said France had "worked well" with Britain on immigration policy over issues such as the Sangatte refugee camp.

'No common policy'

But he added: "It would be illusory to imagine we could have 27 different national immigration policies. France and Britain know this full well.

"We have developed quite exemplary bilateral policy and I believe that it is of the essence that we have some kind of European immigration covenant or pact.

"How could you possibly tackle your immigration policies if France cannot tackle its problems in this connection and if there were not between France and the United Kingdom the same political determination what does this auger for Europe?

"What is the point of having the Schengen area when there is no common policy when it comes to immigration?".

'Migratory waves'

Earlier, in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Sarkozy said closer co-operation was needed to control global migration flows.

"Thanks to the simplified treaty we are going to have a common immigration policy, don't you think we need this on the British side?

"Do you think we can contain the migratory waves from central Europe and Africa working against one another or working together?

"And the very first thing I am going to do is tackle the European migration pact."

Mr Sarkozy is expected to unveil a fresh crackdown in illegal immigration when he meets Mr Brown on Thursday.

At prime minister's questions in the Commons, Mr Brown said he hoped to agree tighter immigration controls at Calais.

He said he believed there would be the talks with Mr Sarkozy would be "very constructive".



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