Asmeniskai as amnestija vertinu teigiamai. Jomajo, juk XXI amzius, kiek galima dirbti nelegaliai ir buti isnaudojamiems, reketuojamiems ivairaus plauko padugniu
Spain starts illegal immigration amnesty
07.02.2005 - 18:10 CET | By Honor Mahony EUOBSERVER/BRUSSELS - Madrid's decision to grant an amnesty to illegal immigrants living and working in the country is set to have consequences well beyond Spa
The amnesty, which is likely to affect up to one million immigrants, began on Monday (7 February).
Over the coming three months, Madrid will accept applications from immigrants who can prove that they have been in Spain for at least six months and who have a job.
The government's aim is to get some control over the country's illegal immigration problem.
But Madrid's move could have consequences for the rest of Europe as granting Spanish residency to the immigrants means that they would have the right to live and work anywhere in the European Union.
Its decision has caused anger in some other capitals.
"Those affected can simply travel further to France or Germany", said German interior minister Otto Schily.
"We should have first examined what consequences this initiative would have for the rest of Europe", he added.
He was backed up by Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk.
The European Commission, which is pushing for common rules in this area, said Spain was within its rights to introduce these measures.
However, a spokeswoman said, "better information sharing and possible co-ordination between member states would have a positive effect".
At the moment several member states are grappling with how to deal with immigration, which has been pushed high up on the political agenda following well documented attempts of refugees, particularly from Africa, trying to reach Europe.
But the approach to the issue varies between countries.
UK, France, The Netherlands
As Spain's amnesty began on Monday, the UK unveiled its own plans to tighten immigration policy for non-EU citizens.
It wants to introduce a points system for economic immigrants and is proposing that genuine refugees will no longer have a right to remain permanently in the country.
Across the Channel in France, discussions are also underway about whether or not to introduce a quota system for immigrants.
Interior minister Dominique de Villepin is to submit a proposal later this month on France's need for immigrants; the proposal will also look at how to tackle illegal immigration.
In the Netherlands, the government is also discussing the issue. Last week it proposed a tough new regime whereby immigrants wanting to live permanently in the Netherlands would have to undergo both a language test and a test on their knowledge of the country.
Common policy by 2010
Under the EU's five-year justice and home affairs programme, agreed in November, a common asylum and immigration policy is foreseen by 2010.
The EU policy is aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting the number of skilled immigrants - particularly to counter Europe's ageing population.
Brussels has also mooted whether a US-style green card should be introduced to attract highly-skilled workers.
But immigration remains a hugely sensitive topic - illustrated by the EU's enlargement last year. Several member states have rules in place restricting workers from central and eastern Europe.