The six largest countries in the European Union (EU) are considering having immigrants sign a contract that would require they learn the language of their adopted country and accept its social norms or risk being expelled.
The "integration contract" is still to be discussed with the other 19 EU member states. Nicolas Sarkozy, French interior minister, proposed it during a meeting of ministers from the "G6" countries - Germany, Britain, France, Poland, Spain and Italy - at Heiligendamm, a luxury resort on Germany's Baltic coast. His idea is based on draft procedures already being debated in France.
The ministers also agreed to form joint anti-terror police and forensic teams that could be dispatched within hours to locations in EU member states where a terrorist attack has occurred.
Charles Clarke, British home secretary, told the FT he supported the move towards an integration contract, initially by asking experts from the G6 to review procedures used in member states.
He acknowledged such an agreement could be used as a check that "new immigrants live up to the values of our society", with expulsions a possible consequence if they did not. Previous G6 proposals on migration and anti-terror issues have been endorsed by the entire EU.
The contract proposal comes amid controversy in several EU member states over the appropriate steps to ensure foreigners accept local customs and speak the language. In the Netherlands, would-be immigrants are shown a film that includes images of a topless woman on a beach and two men kissing in a park, as part of an entrance test covering the language and culture of the Netherlands.
In Germany in recent months, two regional states have proposed starkly different tests to be completed by foreigners wishing to become German citizens.
Wolfgang Schäuble, German interior minister, said agreement was needed on differing forms of integration procedures but stressed this was "a pressing challenge for the whole of the EU that must be addressed".
On illegal immigrants, Spain's interior minister, José Antonio Alonso Suárez, said EU institutions and funds were still geared largely to dealing with migrants from north Africa while thousands were coming from other regions, especially in west Africa.
FT Syndication Service