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The future of the European Migration Network (EMN)

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The function of the European Migration Network (EMN) is to collect, analyse and distribute data on asylum and immigration in order to provide backup for the European Union's decision-making process in this area. The EMN was set up in 2002 on the basis of a preparatory action, which will end in 2006. In this Green Paper the Commission makes a number of proposals for consideration when the time comes to decide on a future structure for 2007 and beyond.

ACT

Commission Green Paper on the future of the European Migration Network [COM(2005)606 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

1. The European Migration Network (EMN) was put in place in 2002 on the basis of a preparatory action. This action comes to an end in 2006. The Commission is currently putting forward a number of ideas on the form to be taken by a future EMN.

The current network

2. The EMN's current tasks are:

  • to collect existing data on asylum and migration;
  • to carry out research work - on a restricted scale;
  • to ensure the exchange of this data and of documentation;
  • to analyse this data and draft comparative reports;
  • to operate as a contact establishment.

3. Action undertaken within the framework of the EMN includes:

  • the setting up of a computer-based information system; the web-based user interface was developed in 2004 and the complete system is nearing completion;
  • the development of a number of analysis and research projects, including a pilot research study conducted in 2004 on the impact of immigration on Europe's societies.

4. The existing network currently comprises 17 national contact points (NCP *). The NCPs of other Member States, including the new Member States, are on the point of joining the EMN or participating as observers. The NCPs take turns in assuming responsibility for developing a national network. This network includes the key actors involved in the field of migration.

5. The contact points are located in ministries (home affairs, justice, etc.), public bodies (such as national statistical institutes or research institutes) or private sector bodies (such as non-governmental organisations or national branches of international organisations (like the IOM)). The list of NCPs is attached. A directory is also available.

6. The Commission notes that efforts have been made:

  • to put NCPs in contact with other European Union networks and projects, but so far these contacts have not led to the intensified cooperation which is necessary if duplication is to be avoided; further efforts have since been made to build on these contacts;
  • to ensure NCP visibility to the outside world; however, the Commission notes that this visibility is limited as very few of the EMN products are accessible to the public; a conference was held in December 2005, in conjunction with the NCPs, to publish the results of a pilot study and discuss the Green Paper.

7. The network is co-financed by the Commission and the Member States. The allocation for the preparatory action was EUR 3 million in 2005 (as compared with EUR 1.4 million in 2002).

8. The evaluation report produced in 2005 identified several difficulties that have faced the EMN in fulfilling its tasks, notably:

  • diversity of legal status and specialisation of the NCPs and of the human and technical resources available;
  • financing of the network;
  • lack of clarity and focus in the definition of its roles and tasks; this has to a certain extent now been resolved.

The future network

9. The Commission is proposing that the general objective of the EMN should be to provide the Community, its Member States and the general public with objective, reliable and comparable information on asylum and migration.

10. However, it suggests that some of the information retrieved, given that it is confidential, should be restricted to specific users.

11. On the issue of concrete tasks, the Commission is proposing:

  • defining a common retrieval methodology in order to obtain comparable data in all the Member States;
  • getting the future EMN to launch research work in the areas where information gaps have been identified (lack of reliable, comparable and up-to-date data;
  • enabling the EMN to express its views on developments and on policy implementation.

12. Consideration must be given to other work being carried out in the field of asylum and immigration when the future EMN is being created. The network should be seen as part of the current general reorganisation and rationalisation of information exchange instruments, notably the proposal for a regulation on Community statistics on migration and international protection.

13. The Commission is also of the view that the future EMN should network with the bodies that retrieve and analyse data in associated areas:

  • the Euro-Mediterranean Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration (CARIM *) ;
  • the Fundamental Rights Agency

14. On the subject of the structure of the future network the Commission suggests two possible options.

First option: a network attached to the Commission

15. The future EMN would continue to consist of a network of national contact points with the Commission assuming responsibility for the overall direction, programming and further development of activities.

16. The legal basis for the network could then be a Council decision.

17. This option could serve as a transitional phase between the current network and, if so decided, a more permanent and institutionalised structure.

Second option: an agency

18. The setting up of a Community agency could be considered a longer-term option.

19. A stable structure of this type would enable the existing EMN to carry out a broader range of tasks.

20. If this option were to be adopted, the following points would have to be considered:

  • the future development of the common immigration and asylum policies;
  • the budget available under the financial perspective
  • the range of tasks it would be given to carry out; it could only be justified if the volume of work involved were sufficient; otherwise, the use of other agencies, existing or future, in the area of justice and home affairs could be envisaged.

21. As for the NCPs, the Commission suggested that they should:

  • be independent of government but at the same time establish good relations with public bodies in order to have access to public sector information;
  • present a certain degree of homogeneity; the Commission proposes defining a set of minimum requirements (notably in terms of overall experience, staffing and IT equipment).

Background

22. The EMN stems from the conclusions of the December 2001 Laeken European Council, which called on the Commission "to establish a system of exchange of information on asylum, migration and countries of origin". The EMN was consequently set up as a pilot project in 2002.

23. The project developed on an informal basis. Institutionalisation was envisaged by the June 2003 Thessaloniki European Council, which suggested that the possibility of "creating a permanent structure in the future" be looked into.

24. Reform of the EMN ties in with the conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council and the Hague programme, which stresses the need for improving the collection, provision, exchange and efficient use of up-to-date information and data on all relevant migratory developments.

Key terms used in the act
  • National contact point (NCP): national structure designed to collect existing data on asylum and migration at national level for use by the EMN, to carry out networking activities and to disseminate the results;
  • Euro-Mediterranean Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration (CARIM): instrument for observing and forecasting migratory movements that originate from, transit through, or are destined for the countries of the Barcelona Process, their causes and their consequences.
Last updated: 17.01.2006
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