Debate over the merit of mass amnesties for illegal immigrants has triggered controversy between France and Spain. The Spanish Prime Minister has been forced to deny claims that he now regrets an amnesty of 600,000 illegal workers in 2005 and would never do it again.
The allegation of a u-turn by José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero came from the French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on national television.
“The French government will issue a statement to clarify what has been a misunderstanding,” said Zapatero. “I’ve already said before that the amnesty was necessary, adequate and positive. Nobody can work illegally and employers can’t have workers who aren’t legal.” The mass amnesty in Spain in 2005 had been criticised several times by the new French president Nicolas Sarkozy.