Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2009-02-03-Speech-2-053"

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"Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, four minutes will be enough to give you a summary of two years’ work – work that has been hard but, I hope, useful – which has involved Parliament alongside both the Commission, with its proposal, and the Council. The essence of this work has been to prepare a directive which, for the first time, lays down sanctions for employers who benefit from the work of illegal immigrants. On the subject of subcontracting – Article 9, which was the subject of discussion between Parliament and the Council and within the Council itself – your rapporteur would have like to extend liability to the whole contracting chain, as the Commission had originally proposed. The Council and Parliament, or rather part of Parliament, were for excluding subcontracting entirely, but we have reached a compromise solution that I believe is workable: dual liability, which should not prevent us from legislating again on this issue in future. That is why tomorrow, for my part and on behalf of the other shadow rapporteurs, whom I thank for the collaboration they have given me during these two years, I shall ask the Council to add a statement to the compromise text on which we are going to vote, to the effect that the provisions of this Article 9 shall not prejudice any future legislative action on subcontracting. In conclusion, Madam President, I believe this directive lets us envisage a Europe in which immigration has finally become a matter of collective responsibility and recognised rights, and not just of rules against immigrants. I believe we have succeeded in changing the philosophy behind this directive, which had been confined solely to fighting illegal immigration. The compromise text agreed with the Council also provides some protection for those immigrants forced to work illegally, who are often held hostage by criminal organisations. Otherwise, Madam President, there would have been a risk of punishing them twice over, both as exploited workers, often forced to accept indecent working conditions, and as illegal immigrants who have to be repatriated, with the repatriation ban which, in many countries, means years and years. In this context, in Articles 7 and 14, we have provided that, in cases involving minors, serious exploitation or people trafficking, the Member States will be obliged to draw up rules for issuing temporary residence permits, the term of which may be extended until any remuneration due has been paid. We should have liked this possibility to be extended to all illegal immigrants, but that is prevented by the Return Directive adopted last year. I was not one of those who supported it. We have, however, succeeded in introducing a rule allowing Member States to apply more favourable measures to immigrants regarding the issuing of residence permits. Article 10 is, in my view, the key article. For the first time, it provides for criminal sanctions to be imposed in the worst cases, including those where the regular workers are minors. I think the additional sanctions laid down in Article 8 are important. They include withdrawal of licences, closure of establishments in particularly serious cases, and exclusion from state aid derived from European funding. Otherwise, we would be guilty of extraordinary hypocrisy: we would be punishing employers with one hand yet still giving them generous subsidies with the other. I believe it is fundamental that we have succeeded in including a definition of remuneration that equates the pay due to an illegal immigrant with the pay of a regular worker, without any discrimination. We have included temporary work agencies in the scope of the directive. In certain countries – such as my own – in particular, these are the organisations that most readily recruit illegal workers under the very worst kinds of exploitative conditions. Just think of the cases where illegal agricultural workers have been hired, which have long filled the crime columns. We have successfully asked for the trade unions to be able to represent immigrants in administrative and civil cases. The text previously mentioned third parties in general, but now it mentions trade unions. We need a running-in period to see how it works, and we have therefore asked the Commission to report to Parliament and the Council after the directive has been in force for three years, specifically about the rules on inspections, residence permits, sanctions and subcontracting."@en1

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