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European Pact on Immigration and Asylum
This pact forms the basis for immigration and asylum policies common to the European Union (EU) and its countries. In a spirit of mutual responsibility and solidarity between EU countries and of partnership with other countries of the world, it gives a new impetus to the continued development of a common immigration and asylum policy that will take account of both the collective interest of the EU and the specific needs of its countries.
European Pact on Immigration and Asylum of 24 September 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].
International migration can contribute to the economic growth of the European Union (EU) as a whole, as well as provide resources for migrants and their home countries, and thus contribute to their development. It can be an opportunity, because it is a factor of human and economic exchange and enables people to achieve what they aspire to. However, there is a need to manage migration in a manner that takes account of Europe's reception capacity in terms of its labour market, housing and health, education and social services, while protecting migrants against possible exploitation by criminal networks.
For over twenty years, EU countries have been working on harmonising their immigration and asylum policies. Significant progress has already been made on several issues, in particular under the Tampere and Hague Programmes. Nevertheless, further efforts are needed to create a truly common immigration and asylum policy that takes into consideration the collective interest of the EU, as well as the individual needs of EU countries. Consequently, the European Council translated the following commitments into the Stockholm Programme.
Organising legal immigration
Legal immigration should be organised in a manner that takes account of the priorities, needs and reception capacities of EU countries and encourages the integration of migrants. Broadly, this requires the EU to:
- implement policies for labour migration that take account of the needs of the labour market of each country;
- increase the attractiveness of the EU for highly skilled workers and take new measures to further facilitate the reception and mobility of students and researchers;
- ensure that these policies do not aggravate brain drain by encouraging circular migration;
- regulate family migration more effectively;
- further strengthen the exchange of mutual information on migration;
- improve information on the possibilities and conditions of legal migration;
- establish ambitious policies to promote the harmonious integration of migrants;
- promote the exchange of best practices in reception and integration and on EU measures to support national integration policies.
Controlling irregular immigration
To ensure that migrants without a legal authorisation to reside in an EU country return to their country of origin or transit, the EU should:
- use regularisation on a case-by-case basis only;
- conclude EU level or bilateral readmission agreements with relevant non-EU countries and evaluate the effectiveness of EU readmission agreements;
- ensure that the risks of irregular migration are prevented within the policy frameworks on entry, residence, freedom of movement, etc.;
- develop cooperation between EU countries on the removal of migrants without legal authorisation to reside in an EU country;
- step up cooperation with countries of origin and transit as part of the Global Approach to Migration in order to control irregular immigration and to provide better information to communities under threat;
- invite EU countries to devise incentive systems for assisted voluntary return;
- take rigorous action through dissuasive and proportionate penalties against those exploiting immigrants without legal authorisation to reside in an EU country;
- put into full effect the applicability within the Union of an expulsion decision taken by any EU country.
Improving border controls
To ensure the effective control of the Union’s external border, the EU as a whole should:
- mobilise all available resources to more effectively control all external borders;
- generalise the issuing of biometric visas from 1 January 2012 and strengthen EU countries’ consular cooperation in view of establishing joint consular services for visas;
- provide the necessary resources to Frontex to fulfil its tasks;
- in a spirit of solidarity, give full consideration to those EU countries receiving disproportionate influxes of immigrants;
- use modern technological means to enable the effective integrated management of the EU's external border;
- strengthen cooperation with countries of origin and transit in the context of external border control and combating irregular immigration, including through increased support for the training and equipping of their migration authorities;
- further develop the Schengen evaluation process.
Creating a Europe of asylum
Even though EU countries have progressed on the application of the common minimum standards for asylum, certain disparities continue to exist. Consequently, further work is needed in order to fully achieve a common European asylum system. Broadly, this requires the EU to:
- set-up a European Asylum Support Office;
- present proposals for a single asylum procedure and a uniform status for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection;
- establish procedures for crisis situations to assist any EU country facing a massive influx of asylum seekers and to promote reallocation of beneficiaries of international protection to assist EU countries facing disproportionate pressures on their asylum systems due to their geographical or demographic situation;
- strengthen collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to better protect asylum seekers outside the EU;
- train external border control personnel on the rights and obligations relating to international protection.
Collaborating with countries of origin and transit
A comprehensive partnership must be created with non-EU countries of origin and transit in order to encourage synergy between migration and development. To this end, the EU should:
- conclude EU level or bilateral agreements with countries of origin and transit that include items relating to legal and irregular migration, readmission and the development of these countries;
- encourage EU countries to provide nationals of east and south European partner countries with opportunities for legal migration, particularly in the form of temporary/circular migration so as to avoid brain drain;
- pursue policies with countries of origin and transit in order to deter or prevent irregular immigration, in particular through capacity building;
- integrate migration and development policies more effectively;
- promote co-development actions, such as the adoption of specific financial instruments for transferring remittances securely and more cheaply;
- firmly implement actions agreed with partner regions, including Africa, east and south-east Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia;
- speed up the deployment of the key tools of the Global Approach to Migration;
- ensure that all these related actions are implemented consistently with the EU's development cooperation and other relevant policies.