Sunday, June 15, 2008

A couple of years ago, President Zapatero announced he was regularising the situation of around 800,000 immigrants who were living here illegally. This caused a bit of a storm among his EU colleagues, as he’d somehow neglected to tell them he was planning it. The French, in particular, were concerned about the consequences for them. Anyway, today we read that the Spanish government has offered these same people a lump sum to give up their residence rights and return to their country of origin. With a promise not to come back for at least 3 years. I keep on saying just how pragmatic the Spanish are but I wonder if I’m right in believing it’s impossible to imagine such a policy being quietly received in the UK? Or even France. Regardless of how sensible it might be.

It’s fascinating to read the comments of the EU establishment to the effect that it’s undemocratic for the Irish who represent 1% of the population to stop the creation of the real European government desired by everyone else. For a start, it’s at least unknown and, at most, probably untrue that everyone else in Europe wants the Treaty. Which is why they’re not being asked. Or asked again, in the case of the French and the Dutch, who’ve already given their negative verdict. Secondly, small groups of people buggering up your plans is exactly what happens in a true democracy, though there’s clearly no place for this in a cosy club of right-thinking, elitist politicians and bureaucrats determined to sustain their game plan and increase their power base come what may. And they wonder why the biggest problem in every advanced nation today is the lack of trust felt by the people in their politicians,

Down at a more micro level – The Pontevedra council has announced it’s taking action against the 10+ companies who’ve not only erected 200 illegal billboards around the town but ignored demands they be taken down. Does this sort of Wild West, cavalier commerce also take place in other developed countries, I wonder.


Mark said...

I notice you wrote but I wonder if I’m right in believing it’s impossible to imagine such a policy being quietly received in the UK
I don't know if the link will save ok here (it's a bbc link) but it refers to similar "bribes" being given by the UK govt to encourage asylum seekers to return home:
Quote: Afghan asylum seekers in the UK are to be given up to £2,500 of government money to help them return home.Those who go home by choice, rather than being deported, will qualify for the grants under a new "voluntary assisted returns" package. This was way back in 2002, but I'm sure I remember similar schemes being introduced in the UK. I really don't think the Spanish government are anything special in their actions or intentions in this (or many other issues).

Graeme said...

Well I don't think the Spanish are offering any bribes, what they are doing is giving immigrants the chance to take the social security contributions they have paid as a lump sum. The good thing about Zapatero's regularisation was precisely that it gave social security coverage to hundreds of thousands of people who didn't have it before - and in the process boosted Spain's social security fund. Far better than the alternative, and some of the countries that criticised Spain's move have since quietly carried out similar processes of their own. I can't help wondering whether the 3 year limit on immigrants returning is the government's own internal estimate of when things will start to pick up again?

Matthew said...

In terms of the business defying Government, for mine it's a symptom of a country where the Government is disorganized or corrupt or a combination of the two.

I've spent some time in 3rd world nations and every time I read about the Spanish system of Government I can't help be reminded of those experiences. However it must be noted that I haven't actually been to Spain [that changes in August, until December. :)]

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