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To establish a framework for training, information, study and exchange activities to improve the effectiveness of cooperation between the administrations of the Member States in the areas of asylum policy, the crossing of external borders of the Member States and immigration policy. Thanks to its multiannual programming, the Odysseus programme aims to extend this cooperation to non-member countries which are applying for accession.
Joint Action 98/244/JHA of 19 March 1998 adopted by the Council on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, introducing a programme of training, exchanges and cooperation in the field of asylum, immigration and crossing of external borders (Odysseus programme) - (1998-2002) [Official Journal L 99, 31.03.1998].
A programme (the Sherlock programme) of training, exchanges and cooperation on identity documents was adopted by the Council in 1996 [Official Journal L 287, 8 November 1996]. It was felt necessary to extend the programme to asylum, immigration and the crossing of external borders. In 1998 the Council therefore adopted a new joint action introducing the Odysseus programme, which took over the projects already under way and broadened the scope of the Sherlock programme for the years 1998 to 2002.
For the purposes of setting priorities in the annual programme of measures, account will be taken of (Art. 1):
- Article K.3(1) of the Treaty,
- the existence of Community or Union legislation already in force,
- the existence of proposals for legislation already under discussion, to anticipate their entry into force by means of cooperation between the administrations,
- priorities set by the Council for cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs,
- any other cooperation required for the purposes of Article K.3(1) of the Treaty on European Union.
For the purposes of the Odysseus programme the following definitions apply to the measures referred to in point 2 (Art. 3):
- training measures: organisation of practical training courses focusing on theoretical and practical knowledge,
- exchange measures: period spent by officials, magistrates or other servants empowered by the Member States in a Member State other than their own for the purpose of comparing their practice with that of their counterparts,
- studies and research: work of an educational nature involving the design, development and dissemination of teaching materials, or other documents such as databases and directories.
The Odysseus programme comprises (Art. 6):
- the design, production and dissemination of teaching materials to enhance the effectiveness of training schemes,
- ways of improving the circulation of information in the areas to which the programme relates,
- analyses and reports on subject areas connected with the programme and compatible with its objectives.
Broken down by subject matter, measures focus primarily on (Art. 7):
- coordinated application of the Dublin Convention of 15 June 1990 determining the State responsible for examining applications for asylum lodged in one of the Member States of the European Communities, after its entry into force,
- close cooperation between competent national administrations and bodies.
- immigration (Art. 8):
- admission of third country nationals, and in particular conditions for entry and travel within the Union, residence rules, family unification, access to employment and to activity as self-employed persons, whether or not salaried,
- combating illegal immigration, and in particular combating illegal entry, residence and employment, and organising of the expulsion and repatriation of illegal immigrants, as well as combating trafficking in human beings and those responsible for organising it.
- crossing of external borders (Art. 9):
- projects concerned with organising the practicalities of controls, including matters concerning the security of identity documents. Special attention will be paid to addressing problems on a thematic basis (in particular by type of border) or on a geographical basis.
To qualify for Community finance, projects must be of interest to the Union and involve at least two Member States.
Projects may involve countries preparing for their accession, and other non-member countries where this would be useful for the purpose of the projects (Art. 11).
The proportion of financial support from the Community will be 60% of the total cost of the programme; up to 80% may be available in exceptional cases (Art. 13).
Measures under the programme which are financed by the general budget of the European Communities are managed by the Commission (Art. 14).
The Commission is responsible for managing and monitoring the programme and for drawing up a draft annual programme comprising a breakdown of the appropriations available and based on thematic priorities corresponding to the structure, content and objectives of the programme (Art. 15).
The Commission is assisted by a committee consisting of a representative of each Member State and chaired by a representative of the Commission (Art. 16).
As from the second financial year, projects for which finance is requested are submitted to the Commission for scrutiny before 31 March of the budgetary year to which they are to be charged (Art. 17).
The Commission is responsible for organising an evaluation of the programme by impartial experts unconnected with the programme, appointed in agreement with the Management Committee referred to in point 9 (Art. 18).
The Action entered into force on 19 March 1998.
4) IMPLEMENTING MEASURES
1999 Programme - Official Journal C 17, 22 January 1999
Annual programme for 2000 - Official Journal C 30, 02.02.2000
It lays out the priorities regarding the implementation of the programme on the one hand and supplies general and practical information to applicants seeking finance to initiate projects on the other. The annual budget is EUR 3 millions.
5) FOLLOW-UP WORK
The funds allocated to implement the Odysseus programme have been exhausted for the financial year 2001. The Commission has therefore proposed the adoption of a Council Decision concerning the creation of a new programme named Argo, which will run from 1 January 2002 until 31 December 2003.