The five biggest European Union states have agreed to fly home illegal immigrants. Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain will share the cost of chartering the planes to do so. The G5 interior ministers meeting in the French town of Evian approved a proposal by Spanish socialist José Antonio Alonso. Italy’s Giuseppe Pisanu, of the right, said the first flights, hopping from state to state picking up passengers, could depart within days.
France’s conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, the right’s leading contender for a 2007 presidential election, said: “Foreigners with no entitlement to be in our countries are breaking our laws and should not stay.” Fears over immigration were an important factor in Dutch voters’ rejection of the EU constitution in a referendum last month. Sarkoy has paid close attention to immigration since French voters also rejected the EU charter.
He said controlled immigration could help restore voters’ faith in the European Union. The ministers also agreed to create an early warning system to help combat identity theft and the trade in fake documents.