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Immigration a hot topic

Mark Mardell | 16:29 UK time, Wednesday, 22 April 2009

MEPs I've been talking to in Strasbourg have no doubt that immigration will be a big issue in the June European elections. One told me he's never heard it raised so often on the doorstep. He thought the BNP would gain one seat in the election in the UK.

Whether or not prospective and current MEPs would be wise to point to today's vote in Strasbourg I'm not sure. A new common European immigration policy appears to be a step closer after a vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The parliament backed a report by the centre-right Maltese MEP Simon Busuttil, who has said: "The momentum to construct a common immigration policy has now reached an unstoppable thrust and the European Union should seize the opportunity to deliver it. Or we will all live to regret it."

He wants countries to do more to share migration, but is annoyed the left has added in a plan for new migrants to be allowed to vote. This is what is known in the jargon as an "own initiative" report, so it may not have a huge impact on the final policy, but it is an indication of the sort of ideas floating around.


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