Thursday, November 20, 2008

About that immigration policy

It would be too much to ask our commentariat or our politicians, specifically the Conservative ones to read documents that come out of the European Union. Generally speaking, they are long and boring though, if one can stay awake, highly informative.

If the cannot cope with that, could one possibly ask them to read some of the far more readable and equally informative Houser of Lords European Union Committee reports? Not even that, eh? Well, maybe this blog, which has referred to an interesting recent report “The Commission’s Annual Policy Strategy for 2009” here and here. This document is an amazingly simple lesson in where power really lies.

One of the witnesses was Jim Murphy, then Minister for Europe and he was asked about priorities for the Commission and HMG.
When asked which of the Commission's priorities the Government considered most important, the Minister told us that one of the top three would be "a watching brief on justice and home affairs" (Q 3). When asked whether the "area of freedom, security and justice" was a priority for the Commission, the Minister replied that the contents of the Annual Policy Strategy were "a reflection of a degree of vigilance by Her Majesty's Government which is continually arguing the case for mutual recognition rather than harmonisation". He agreed that "[o]n the issue of fundamental freedoms and justice and home affairs … the Annual Policy Strategy is relatively light", and he said that this was "largely because much of the work is contained in the five-year Hague Programme of work, so most of the justice and home affairs issues are on-going as part of the four previous annual policy strategies" (Q 25). Civil and criminal justice do not receive much attention in the Annual Policy Strategy. The Commission seems to envisage implementing what it can of the existing Hague Programme in 2009. The discussion of the successor of the Hague Programme is likely to provide a focus for a greater engagement with priority-setting in this area.
The Hague Programme is described in the same document as “a multiannual framework programme in the area of justice and home affairs for 2005-09.”

As is abundantly clear from that paragraph, this programme is unrolled regardless of treaties, referendums, parliaments or elections. Would it be too much to expect the Conservatives who frequently throw their weight around on the subject of immigration and how they are going to be tough about it, to mention, just every now and then, the Hague Programme? (That’s Hague as in the city not the person.)

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