MEPs back penalties for hiring irregular migrants
05.11.08 @ 09:29
BRUSSELS - The European Parliament civil liberties committee has backed the idea of introducing sanctions, administrative as well as criminal, against employers who hire undocumented immigrants from outside Europe.
Italian Socialist Claudio Fava, in charge of the dossier in the parliament, described the vote as "a step forward".
"Illegal immigrants help meet the needs of some unscrupulous employers who are willing to take advantage of workers prepared to undertake what are mostly low-skilled and low paid jobs," he said.
Brussels estimates there are four to eight million immigrants working without proper documentation in the EU, with the number swelling by up to half a million each year.
According to the approved piece of law, employers hiring irregular immigrants will have to, among other things, pay costs for the migrant's return, outstanding wages, taxes and social contributions.
Criminal penalties could be triggered in circumstances such as extreme exploitation and human trafficking, while those exploited severely could be granted a temporary residency permit in order to participate in a trial trying to win what an employer owns to them.
The directive does not exclude regularisation of clandestine workers, Mr Fava said.
But the issue of criminal measures is very divisive among EU member states.
In July - when the draft legislation was debated by EU interior ministers - some countries, including Germany, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden, argued there were other ways to fight irregular employment.
The European Commission proposal on sanctions against employers who hire undocumented non-EU immigrants dates back to May 2007. It is part of the union's efforts to curb such forms of migration, while boosting legally sanctioned ways of labourers entering its territory.