Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Socialists want EU 'charter' to help immigrants

The socialist group in the European Parliament has called for stronger efforts by EU governments to take care of immigrants, just after Spain's centre-left government decided to grant temporary work visas to 4,000 Senegalese people.

The socialist plan - with a clear focus on the integration of immigrants rather than on curbing immigration - was launched on the eve of a two-day gathering of member parties of the Party of European Socialists (PES) in Porto on Thursday and Friday (7-8 December).

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The European centre-left is proposing a "European Charter for the Integration of Migrants" which would commit EU states to language-learning and the "respect for the cultural diversity of both migrants and host communities."

Socialist MEPs also want the "recognition, through cultural centres and other public spaces, of the contribution of migrants to the economic development and cultural and social enrichment of host societies."

They push for "EU codes of conduct for ethical recruitment" which should lead to sanctions to employers who exploit migrants workers who should gain "full trade union rights."

But with social-democratic parties in some member states under pressure to defend western values, the PES plan also says migrants should be informed about "common European values" and a "new European citizenship" should include of "rights and responsibilities."

The EU centre left's show of solidarity with migrants comes just after Spain's socialist prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero earlier this week signed a deal with the Senegalese government to grant temporary permits to 4,000 Senegalese workers.

"This makes possible the emigration of Senegalese under a legal framework through our Labour Ministry and the job market. Happily, we are in need of labourers," Mr Zapatero said on Tuesday according to AP.

The plan appears to form part of broader efforts to regulate the stream of African migrants trying to reach Europe's southern shores, with the European Commission last week proposing a network of job centres in Africa and 'work mobility' packages.

Mr Zapatero's move is however likely to raise eyebrows in countries such as France, Austria and the Netherlands which have been criticising Madrid for earlier moves to unilaterally legalise illegal immigrants.

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