Catering businesses which give jobs to illegal immigrants in the European Union face fines or even imprisonment under draconian plans being considered by EU officials.
Franco Frattini, European Union justice commissioner, yesterday revealed he is to target the farming, construction and catering sectors in an effort to prevent employers exploiting workers and to reduce people trafficking.
While many of the EU's 25 members make it a criminal offence to employ illegal immigrants, the nature of the punishments varies widely. Frattini's measures would bring a more harmonised approach.
In the UK, employers can be fined £2,000 under toughened laws dating from 2004 but do not face jail terms. EU officials are considering criminal punishment, including prison sentences.
Frattini's measures, to be announced next May or June, would apply to non-EU citizens only and would not cover people from the new eastern European member states.
By Daniel Thomas
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