European Pact on Immigration and Asylum : At a meeting in Cannes on Monday, 7 July, EU ministers approved French proposals for a tougher common policy to stem the influx of illegal immigrants, despite some differences and concerns about accusations of xenophobia from outside the European Union.
France has made harmonizing the EU immigration policy a priority of its six-month EU presidency that began this month. Under its plans, EU Member-States would pledge to boost the fight against illegal migration and expel more illegal immigrants, while promoting legal migration and a common asylum policy by 2010. EU officials argue the European Union must get tougher on illegal immigration to convince voters to be more accepting of legal immigrants needed to make up for the EU aging population. France's Immigration Minister Hortefeux has said concerns about immigration were one reason Irish voters have rejected the Lisbon Treaty on EU reform.