EP approves penalties for employing illegal migrants

Hennis-Plasschaert: “Member States are now obliged to conduct effective and adequate inspections” 19th February 2009: The European Parliament has given its approval to a first reading agreement for a directive on sanctions against employers who engage and exploit illegal immigrants.

The measure is part of a package of proposals at European level to provide a comprehensive policy on immigration which include a Blue Card to attract skilled migrant labour and a returns directive for expelling those who have illegally entered the EU or overstayed their visas.

The present proposal seeks to reduce the pull-factors which encourage trafficking and bad employment practices. It aims to remove incentives on EU employers to undercut minimum wage requirements by exploiting third country nationals on very low wages and without social protection.

The sanctions envisaged would vary from administrative fines to criminal sanctions depending on the gravity, scale and persistence of illegal employment practices whilst ensuring that migrants are treated fairly. Employers must ensure that they verify the possession of a valid residence permit before recruiting anyone.

Ms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert MEP (VVD, Netherlands) the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) spokesperson on migration issues has endorsed the compromise with Member States and holds that the proposal will establish the necessary minimum standards across the European Union. "Many Member States have already some kind of penalty system in place. However, enforcement is often lacking. Member States are now obliged to conduct effective and adequate inspections. An European, and thus common, approach is the only way forward in an EU without internal borders," Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert said.

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