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Towards a common immigration policy
This communication is intended to kick-start a new European Union immigration policy. The idea is to make a renewed commitment to developing such a policy, focusing particularly, on the basis of work already done, on legal immigration, integration, fighting illegal immigration and working in partnership with third countries, so as to shape a policy consistent with other EU policies and in conformity with its treaty competences. The object is to improve solidarity among Member States and to work towards making EU and national immigration policies coherent and complementary.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 5 December 2007 - "Towards a Common Immigration Policy" [COM(2007) 780 final - Not yet published in the Official Journal].
The Commission notes the progress that has been made towards a common immigration policy, including:
- achievements in the Schengen area;
- the action of the European Agency for the Management of Operational cooperation at the External Borders (Frontex);
- establishing an immigration policy with an external dimension;
- the development of financial funds, e.g. the External Border Fund and the Integration Fund.
However, the Commission also notes weaknesses, such as the failure to enforce expulsion orders and contradictory approaches to the recruitment of third-country workers in different Member States. That is why, in its view, it is necessary to go further with a truly common outlook on questions of immigration. In this respect it notes, for example, that the European policy on legal immigration described in the Tampere conclusions remains largely incomplete.
The Commission recommends building a new commitment that will lead to a common policy in which national and Community actions will complement each other. In practical terms, the European policy will take into account specific national needs, while national policies will act in a truly European framework in pursuit of objectives established in common.
This new commitment must respect existing Treaty competences. Such a commitment would be taken on the basis of an assessment of the immigration situation in each Member State. It would define a plan leading to a common understanding of the kind of immigration that Europe needs, including adequate immigration measures. It would contain a set of measures devised to tackle illegal immigration, addressing both new arrivals and illegal immigrants already living in the EU.
The plan would, in addition, ensure better coordination among Member States with regard to major decisions in the immigration field, e.g. regularisation measures.
This renewed commitment would also help make policies more consistent, directing all policies, whether national or European, horizontal or sectorial, towards a common goal. In practical terms, it would:
- encourage the Member States and European institutions to work in partnership and transparency;
- define common principles and rules regarding coherence and solidarity;
- implement existing EU strategies and policies (anti-discrimination policies, employment strategy, open method of coordination on social inclusion, social protection and health care);
- provide quantifiable indicators for evaluating the impact of measures adopted;
- improve cooperation between national administrations.
The Commission intends to make proposals to implement this renewed commitment by the end of the first half of 2008 at the latest, following the European Council's approval of an agreement in principle on the idea of this commitment at its meeting on 14 December 2007.
This communication builds on the conclusions of the European Council meetings at Tampere on 15 and 16 October 1999 and at Hampton Court on 27 October 2005, when the assembled Heads of State or Government made immigration a priority theme. At its meeting on 15 and 16 December 2005, the European Council adopted a global approach. This approach, endorsed by the European Council on 14 and 15 December 2006, is balanced, comprehensive and coherent and is based (in the words used by the European Council at its December 2005 meeting) on policies designed to combat illegal immigration and, in cooperation with third countries, to make the most of the advantages of legal immigration.