Several years ago, the Danish government restricted the immigration of prospective foreign spouses of Danish citizens and residents. The aim was to stop 'fetching marriages', arranged marriages to bring in young spouses, mostly women, from Muslim countries. These women often failed to integrate into Danish society and were frequently little more than household slaves.
On July 25, the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice, ruled in an Irish case that spouses of EU citizens cannot be prevented from living in Ireland. By July 28, a number of couples appeared at the Danish Ministry for Integration to demand a review of their rejected applications (they have been living in nearby Sweden, which has less restrictive laws). Meanwhile, Danish newspapers reported that a 'common knowledge' test for immigrants may also conflict with EU rules. As a result, the Danish government is reviewing its entire immigration system.
Italy's immigration policies have also been criticized, this time by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The Council says those policies 'lack human rights and humanitarian principles and may spur further xenophobia.' Italy just declared a national state of emergency due to the 'exceptional and persistent flux' of illegal immigrants. As if to confirm this assessment, more than 800 Africans arrived on July 31 by boat off the coast of southern Italy.
The EU has been working for years on a common immigration policy. Once it lifted its internal border controls, allowing people to move freely within the EU, the need for a single approach became obvious. At the same time, residency and citizenship rules vary, with some nationalities easier to acquire than others. I assume that the Court's ruling would apply equally to a native Italian or a Syrian-born Swede who want to move to Dublin.
I wonder how the average Dane, Italian or Irishman (or woman) feels when judges in Luxembourg, whose names and faces they probably don't know, or the human-rights-focused Council of Europe in Strasbourg, tell them and their governments to stop trying to preserve the very nature of their society.
What these countries are doing by themselves isn't perfect and in fact may even be ineffective (since Denmark imposed its requirements on foreign spouses, its number of resident permits has almost doubled). But why should outsiders be likely to know or do any better?