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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals (debate)

Mr President, I would like to thank the Commission, the Council and our two rapporteurs for recognising the complexity of the issues at long last and the need for a coherent approach. We know that migration is a fact of life, we know it is a force for development and we know that many EU nationals also follow a path where they want to earn, learn or yearn for something better, just as those coming from sub-Saharan Africa do.

We welcome the move for equal rights for all groups of migrants here because we have been concerned that looking at this in a sectoral approach can lead to even greater complexity in terms of different rights for different workers.

But we are also concerned that we find a status for those who currently cannot return to their countries of origin because of conflict and are therefore left destitute, often on our streets.

We also welcome the call for greater honesty from Member States about the need for migrant workers in our current economies. Globalisation has speeded up migration, and I would thoroughly agree with those Members who have talked about the need to change our trade rules. As we were told, if you take our fish, you take our fishermen too. In which case, I would urge those Members not to shed crocodile tears about the plight of certain migrants – and not to vote for fisheries agreements in this House and not to vote for the trade rules that devastate economies elsewhere.

We are also right to look at employment in this debate in terms of equal rights, equal pay, good inspection, which is good for all workers who need to know their rights. If we are concerned about the brain drain, we also need to look at retention measures for our own skilled workers. We need to use and develop the skills of those migrant workers coming to us, and EQUAL has given us some fantastic examples there which we must not lose.

And if we are going to attract the highly skilled, it is not just a question of free movement; it is also a question of tackling racism and xenophobia, which also deter many highly skilled people from coming to the European Union.