EU Enlargement Would Have Its Drawbacks, Says Caritas

BRUSSELS, Belgium, JUNE 22, 2003 ( A bigger European Union might not benefit everyone, the Caritas network warns in a new document.

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The document, «EU Enlargement: Toward an Equal Europe,» was presented here Thursday in connection with the summit of EU leaders in Greece.

According to Caritas-Europe, the weaker social groups, such as the displaced, unemployed, sick and elderly, might not benefit as much as others from an enlargement of the European Union.

The number of regular immigrants, coming from Central and Eastern regions of the continent, is 850,000 a year. Another 600,000 enter illegally, Vatican Radio reported.

Caritas-Europe, a network of Catholic relief, development and social service organizations in 44 countries, emphasized the need for the European Union to promote legal work, to offer adequate social protection to immigrant workers, to facilitate integration, and to foster family reunification.

Caritas also requested that special attention be given to non-governmental organizations and charitable associations that often offer low-cost social care, «especially after the privatization and cuts in social and health expenses noted in many countries.»

It contends that such organizations must be given adequate recognition in the European Union and greater national and European financing.

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