Rejecting a plan to set up holding centres in North Africa for Europe-bound immigrants…Interior ministers from the five biggest European Union states, including Britain, have made no headway at talks in Florence on the controversial proposal by Germany and Italy. France and Spain would not accept it. Hoping to stem a recent surge of illegal immigrants to Europe, Italy and Germany had called on the EU to build overseas reception camps for refugees that would separate the real asylum seekers from the rest. The French minister, Dominique de Villepin said development in their countries of origin would encourage their people to stay there. Transit countries also needed help. Germany’s Otto Schily said the debate was not closed, and that leaving people adrift was out of the question. Paris and Madrid said the UN High Commission for Refugees was better qualified to deal with the matter than the EU. The harmonisation of European expulsion procedures was also discussed.