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Europe and Immigration

 PORTUGAL

Portugal has, with Spain, called for an EU-wide common policy on immigration, which is largely in the hands of national governments at the moment.

Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Baroso has recently proposed tightening Portugal's asylum rules. Under his plan, immigrants who have arrived illegally since November 2001 would be denied legal status.

Immigrant groups representing thousands of workers from Portugalís former colonies say this would lead to mass expulsions. Another measure would prevent workers from entering Portugal without a work permit first.

Portugal is also offering language lessons to help immigrants who are legally there. Prime Minister Barroso said: "The EU needs to send a clear signal about what it wants in terms of immigration. Today the main issue in the EU is immigration."

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