Europe Needs Immigrants?

photo: bistro paris, saint germain

A little sun on a terrace goes a long way.

Vote For the Parti du Plaisir!

Paris:- Monday, 27. May 2002:- During the recent presidential elections in France one of the major issues seemed to concern 'immigration.' In reality, an 'immigrant' in France is more likely to be born here than not, so the term is a substitute for anyone who doesn't exactly 'look' French.

Considering France's former colonies, and its present offshore departments and territories, many 'French' are rainbow colored, and many more are the 2nd or 3rd generation of actual immigrants - from former French colonies - who have long had French nationality.

Last week Le Parisien published an interview with a foreign office official, about the European Union's immigration policy. As it stands, this is governed for all, except Britain, by the Schengen agreement.

In effect, it says any legal resident of the EU can circulate freely within the EU, and everybody else is a 'foreigner.' Britain has its own system, and is thus a target destination of attempted illegal immigration.

Despite EU efforts, Europe's borders are full of holes. 'Visitors' are routinely invited en masse as tourists, for example. The fall of the east's 'Wall' set off some movement west, but this is largely over. Most 'immigration' now comes from south of the Mediterranean.

To grapple with the problem of illegal immigration, a European summit conference has been announced for June in Seville to try an hammer out a common EU policy for it.

In a best case scenario, this conference will declare that illegal immigration is a 'grave' problem - in the last 16 months over six hundred thousand have entered Spain, mostly from nearby Africa, with about half being 'regularized - getting residence papers.

The aging of Europe's population is creating a need for some dose of immigration in both western and eastern Europe.

The major problem lies with public opinion. With the rise of extreme right-wing politicalphoto: palms in luxembourg parties - all against 'immigration' - Europe's leaders need the courage to create a common EU policy favorable to immigration, that may be politically unpopular.

The Luxembourg's palm trees actually attract sunshine.

This may involve setting 'quotas,' fixing the numbers of immigrants allowable each year, to each member state of the EU. This will require a certain honesty - an admission that the EU needs immigrants.

As long as no figures are set, politicians can continue to say that all 'immigration' is illegal. Spain has been talking about a possible 'quota' of 50,000 legal immigrants per year.

If EU citizens can accept such a figure - compared to a half-million 'illegals' - then the ultra right-wing parties might have one less issue for gaining votes.

Camped At Sangatte

The 'holes' in Europe's borders allow refugees into France and on arrival they often hear of Sangatte for the first time. This is a 'transit' camp set up by the French Red Cross in the small Calais suburb of Sangatte, a few hundred metres distant from Chunnel entry.

Each night a small number of Sangatte's temporary residents attempt to hop on a train or transport truck headed for the tunnel under the Channel. Twelve have died doing this.

The camp was built to house 700 and its current population is 1500. The Red Cross can't control its residents, and a visit this week by France's new super-security minister Nicolas Sarkozy merely resulted in a promise of an extra 30 gendarmes - in September.

Britain wants the camp closed. The operators of the Chunnel - Eurotunnel - want the camp closed, and the SNCF wants the camp closed too. Local residents, who voted massively for the FN, are just as vocal.

While everybody wonders how to close the camp, it is equally clear that most of its temporary residents don't have homes they can be sent back to - to Kurdistan in Irak or to Afghanistan, just to cite two examples.

Attempts to open other camps further away from the Channel were blocked by local opposition and disinterest by refugees.

These don't understand the attitude of French authorities. On one hand they have no problems reaching Sangatte, but after that the French do everything to stop them from getting to Britain.

For its part Britain is preparing to let everybody know it is going to have the RAF provide free flights back to Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka or Afghanistan for everybody who gets across the channel. Visas for diplomats will be refused to the countries that don't cooperate.

Britain is getting 1500 demands for asylum per week, and is granting it to 10 percent of the applicants - afterphoto: cafe delmas, place contrescarpe an average of 18 months' deliberation. This allows those who won't be accepted to melt into London's pot, where they will not be asked for residence permits.

One of Paris' biggest terraces, at the Place Contrescarpe.

Another measure Britain is thinking about is the establishment of three 'open' concentration camps, to hold refugees while their asylum applications are being considered. The neighbors of the chosen sites are welcoming the idea with the same warmth as expressed by the neighbors of the camp at Sangatte.

To 'get rid' of Sangatte, the Blair government is thinking of giving all 1300 current residents a free ride into Britain, in exchange for the camp being closed definitively.

Besides other fears, the British are worried sick about the possibility of a terrorist mixing in with the refugees, and blowing up the Chunnel.

Britain As Eldorado?

A French sociologist has conducted a study on behalf of the European Parliament of Sangatte's 'campers' over a recent six-month period, and discovered that not all is as it seems.

Most of the migrants are male and young - with an average age of 25. When they leave their homelands, Britain is not their primary destination. Most do not even know where they are going.

It is only after circuitous and chaotic trips lasting from three to six months, usually alone, sometimes in the hands of 'passers,' that the refugees arrive at Sangatte - about which they know nothing until after reaching Italy or France.

Lack of aid or welcome along the way propels them on, until Britain becomes the first choice because it is last in the chain of countries they pass through.

The sociologist's report did not state that Britain was just as unwelcoming as all other countries because it is miffed at being the last choice.

Vote For the Parti du Plaisir!

After having umpteen candidates for the first round of the presidential elections, it is not much of a surprise that there are 27 candidates for the first round of the legislative elections in Paris' 1st Electoral District.

Well, it is also a national record. This doesn't bother the one and only candidate of the Parti duphoto: door, garde republicaine, mouffetard Plaisir, strip-tease dancer Cindy Lee. Not that she knows her adversaries personally - no, but she ran against Jean Tiberi in the 5th arrondissement in the municipal elections in 2001, and lost by quite a lot.

Cindy Lee didn't manage to get the 500 necessary signatures to run for president either. But the plucky blond, besides having an attractive 'nombril,' does have a program.

This doorway is in the Rue Mouffetard.

She, like many other candidates, is for zero tolerance for delinquents - because one can't have a 'hedonist program without security.' Cindy is all for lower taxes and payroll deductions, but she hasn't taken a position on the Europe 'question' yet.

Very definitely she wants the Luxembourg transformed into a textile-free zone, and wants to see emergency care services for the love-lorn. Free plastic surgery is also on her platform.

I'm afraid Le Parisien isn't taking her seriously. While she needs to get five percent of the vote in order to get aid for campaign financing, she admits she may only get half of one percent.

Still, Cindy thinks she would make a good Ministre du Plaisir. Le Parisien thinks she is a little frog who wants to be bigger than the big bonzen.

Paris Internet

Paris has a new Web URL and it is http://www.paris.fr/. This started up on 22. March during the Fête de l'Internet here and was presented as 'Paris Ville Numérique,' which has been shortened to 'PARVI' for all of those who can't remember how to spell 'numérique' or don't know that it means 'digital.'

Behind the name the action is supposed to involve providing Internet access for all residents, in centres called 'Espaces Publics Numériques' - or 'EPN' for short - which are signalled by a logo for 'PARVI.' Two centres are already in operation.

I took a quick look at the new Web site, and it seems to be a work-in-progress, with some of the same material as the older http://www.paris-france.org/ site, but without any sign of English, because 'www.paris.fr' is supposed to provide services for residents.

The city also has its ambitions to provide aid for young entrepreneurs, or any Paris business that wants to get online. Finally; the city wants to make it easier for citizens to have dialogues with its leaders and its services, and get information from them. So far, it seems like a small start to a big program.

New Shortcut

I have good news for all who have faced thephoto: awnings incredibly huge trek across either the Pont Royal or the Pont de la Concorde, to get to or from the Musée d'Orsay.

You can now take the shortcut consisting of the Passerelle Solférino over the Seine and its corresponding tunnel under the Quai des Tuileries, to gain access to the left-bank museum or the Tuileries and the Rue de Rivoli.

On Saturday, enough sun for awnings to be necessary.

If you stay mainly on the left bank, here's your chance to make a rapid sortie to the right bank, just to find out how it feels, if you've ever been curious. The tunnel is open daily from 7:20 to 20:30 in summer - which is now, I guess.

Night Market

Most of Paris' outdoor marchés are only open in the mornings, but now there is one open on Wednesdays from 15:00 to 20:00 for those who like to get their tomatoes as the sun sets. This marché is located in the Place Baudoyer, beside the Rue de Rivoli, in front of the Mairie of the 4th arrondissement. The métro station Hôtel de Ville is closest.

'No Smoking Day' in Paris is next Friday, 31. May. This is associated with the WHO's 'Sport Sans Tabac,' which is the theme for this year's World No Smoking Day. For the occasion, the city will set up three 'No Future for Cigarettes' tents in front of the Hôtel de Ville.

Sports News

The French national soccer team played a 'friendly' pre-World Cup game against South Korea on Sunday and won the match by a score of 3-2.

While a score like this makes me think that the French actually won the game, according to Le Parisien 'Les Bleus' showed serious weaknesses, especially on defense, and to a lesser extent with their offense, running, kicking the ball, dribbling and other football fundamentals.

But the worst blow of all was the injury suffered by the team's star player, Zinedine Zidane.

As far as I can make out, his thigh collapsed from fatigue.

The fatigue of a long and rough football season with Real Madrid, the fatigue of becoming a father for the third time, the fatigue of a long flight to Japan and the transfers to the remote team hotel, and the fatigue of another flight to Korea and the necessary transfers to the place of the match at Suwon.

Le Parisien, which probably has more football reporters in Korea than there are French fans there, has described the outer appearances of the injury in extremely technical terms, that can probably only be understood by med students.

Basically, the muscle that provides the power for the leg to kick the ball is the one injured. Radiophoto: resto veg France-Info talked about it all day. Would he play the first game? Would he play within two weeks?

France has plunged into gloom because the statistics say that France wins more games when Zinedine 'Zizou' Zidane plays and doesn't win so many when he doesn't.

A little shade on this veg resto's terrace - but it's long after lunchtime.

While France nervously twists its handkerchiefs, Le Parisien admits that the French team has no less than three other players who can replace Zizou - Dugarry, Djorkaeff and Micoud.

But - aha! - the but! Zizou is mythic while the other three are merely good footballers. Le Parisien shuffles its player cards to propose all sorts of alternate tactics - all, in fact, used before - with success.

But in the end it is 'Le Coup Dur' on the front page and the 3-2 is 'Ils Ont Gagné Quand Même.' splashed across pages two through five, with more World Cup news on page 22, with the rest of sports news on pages 20 to 25.

George and Jacques surface on page 6, with "Cher George," "Cher Jacques"

Late Spring Weather Warnings

Paris is not an exciting weather area even though it has been a bit exciting today. All the more reason then, to pay attention to France- Météo's warnings.

France-Météo's alert service is mainly for northern, central, mountainous, eastern, western Atlantic coast, all types of southern and offshore areas of France - that occasionally or regularly have more extreme weather than the Ile-de-France region.

If you are curious or want to know more about France's so-called late spring weather, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts. Check out the warning-prone 'Vigilance-Météo' area on the opening page.

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