European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called Friday for a uniform EU immigration policy after the row between Rome and Bucharest over the expulsion of dozens of Romanians from Italy.
"It's absurd to have 27 immigration policies in Europe," said Barroso after a meeting of the Assembly of European Regions in Udina, northern Italy.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi issued an emergency expulsion decree by which dozens of Romanians considered a threat to public safety were expelled after a Romanian gypsy was accused of murdering an Italian woman.
Prodi and his Romanian counterpart Calin Tariceanu met amid tensions over the killing, which led to what appeared to be a reprisal attack on three Romanians.
The Commission "will examine the compatibility of the (expulsion) decree with EU standards," Barroso told reporters, while adding that he did not think Prodi, "a champion of European integration, could draft a text contrary to the EU spirit" regarding freedom of movement within the 27-member bloc.
The remarks came the day after Romanian Interior Minister Cristian David urged the European Commission to quickly rule on the legality of the emergency expulsion decree.
David said he had discussed the problem with Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini and that he planned to keep up the pressure.
"Nothing in EU legislation prevents a country from taking public safety measures" to defend itself against crime by migrants, "whether from within Europe or elsewhere," Barroso said.
"We think that with improved economic conditions in Romania thanks to its entry into the EU (in January) migrants will begin returning to their country," he added.
Barrosi said a joint EU immigration policy should seek the middle ground between opening the doors to all, which he said would be "irresponsible," and one of "turning inward, which would contribute to xenophobia."
He said the EU should be "very firm in terms of policing, checks and security" and at the same time "generous in terms of integration."
But the European Commission president said Europe was not ready for a federal police force.
Prodi, himself a former European Commission president, and Tariceanu wrote to Barroso on Wednesday calling for a "European strategy" aimed at encouraging the inclusion of gypsies in the societies of member states. ( AFP )