EU Return Directive: jackboot Europe

On 18 June the European Parliament voted to ratify the ‘Return Directive’, a viciously racist piece of legislation aimed at cleansing Europe of so-called ‘illegal’ migrants from Africa, Asia and Latin America. This new dir­ective will allow European states to:
• extend the maximum period of detention for immigrants who have ‘resided irregularly in European territory’ (and who have committed no crime) for up to 18 months prior to banning them from re-entering any part of the EU for up to five years;
• hold immigrants in prisons in the absence of enough detention centres;
• allow the detention and deportation of all undocumented migrants including unaccompanied minors and pregnant women;
• expel unaccompanied minors and other migrants to a country where they have neither family nor legal support.

In debating the Directive, the stan­ding provision that children, the elderly, pregnant women, those with in­dependent evidence of torture and those with serious mental or physical disabilities should generally not be detained was explicitly overridden.

The Directive will enshrine detention and deportation as the routine tools of immigration control throughout Europe as they already are in Britain – which has opted out of the Directive, since its existing legislation is even more draconian. Migrants from Latin America in particular have been organising protests against a threatened new wave of repression. Latin American leaders have spoken out harshly against the new law, with Ra­fael Correa of Ecuador calling it a ‘hate directive’, threatening to suspend talks between the EU and the Andean Community if it is implemented.  Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has condemned the EU for ‘legalising barbarism’ and threatened to disrupt oil supplies to Europe.

This Directive follows in the wake of a number of other racist measures being implemented by the EU, including a proposal by Spain that airlines and shipping lines should ‘collect and forward data on all passengers at the time of boarding to law enforcement agencies at the destination country’ and inform authorities of anyone not travelling on the date shown on their return ticket – a wholesale surveillan­ce of everyone’s movements within Europe. In March, the EU had already agreed to give US authorities direct access to all passenger data. On 10 July, the EU passed a resolution permitting the future fingerprinting of children as young as ten (they had originally wanted six) for biometric identification. In Italy, Berlusconi’s ultra-right government has passed a law to fingerprint all Roma and leg­ally discriminate against them on the basis that ‘they are all thieves’. This incipient fascism that is creeping through Europe must be opposed.

Cat Alison

FRFI 204 August / September 2008


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