Richard North, 21/08/2004  

The garrulous Rocco Buttiglione – commissioner-designate for justice, freedom and security, has teamed up with Otto Schilly, the German federal minister of the interior, to recommend "reception camps" in north Africa to "filter" immigrants from the South of the continent on their way to EU countries.

Sounding suspiciously like concentration camps, there is more than a little historical resonance in the fact that they are being championed by a German and an Italian politician in what may well come to be dubbed "the final solution" to the immigration problem.

But to avoid the jibe of "little colonialists", which has already been levied at them, the Axis duo want the "countries on the other side of the Mediterranean" to create the camps, with costs shared "roughly in equal parts" among EU member states.

That way, all the European states would have to do would be to "encourage and support them", thus keeping their hands clean. Buttiglione is also suggesting that there is a possibility of using NGOs "with contacts with European companies" to train workers needed to run the camps.

Methinks Barroso had better start leaning on his man, before things start getting out of control. The backlash on this could tear the commisson apart.

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