Immigration Policy in France and Europe was the topic of a public lecture given by the French Ambassador Francis Etienne today on the Manawatu campus.
Mr Etienne gave a French perspective on what, he said, is a pan-European issue.
He said while France has long been a nation of immigrants, the nature of the immigration has changed.
“We are used to migration from neighbouring countries since World War Two, but the trends over the last 20 years have changed dramatically. There used to be regional migration in greater Africa until 2000-2001. Now it is global. People from Africa, Libya, the Middle East have started to come to Spain, Italy, France…The (most populous) nationally to come to France between 2001 and 2010 was Iraqi. This is not something we are familiar with.”
While the Schengen agreement, ratified in 1985, commits 27 European countries to cooperate on immigration matters, there is no contiguousness between the nations involved, nor consistency in the way they handle legal and illegal immigration, he said.
Mr Etienne said managing the immigration problem in Europe faces many challenges: political in the form of inconsistency between laws and regulations across borders; the need for greater dialogue between EU countries but also with third countries not included in the Schengen agreement, and countries of origin; judicial in the form of lack of regulation globally about returning illegal immigrants to their home countries and the complexities involved in trying to do so; and the need for practical solutions to manage the growing number of people moving around the world.
Better communication was essential and practical solutions such as biometrics to control and manage the increase in global passenger movements were required, he said.
Professor Cynthia White, head of the School of Linguistics and International Languages, which co-hosted the visit with the Vice-Chancellor, says the talk continued the French Embassy’s close connection with the University. The Embassy sponsors the French Embassy Medal - awarded to the University’s top French student, and the Ambassador recently hosted Bastille Day Celebrations in the Great Hall on the Wellington Campus.