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Coordination of the Community immigration policy

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1) OBJECTIVE

To coordinate immigration policy; to make an additional contribution to the on-going debate on the development of migration policy for the Union with a view to the European Conference on Migration to be organised by the Belgian Presidency on 16-17 October 2001.

2) COMMUNITY MEASURE

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on an open method of coordination for the Community immigration policy.

3) CONTENTS

The Treaty of Amsterdam conferred powers on the Community in the areas of migration and asylum. In 2000 and 2001, several acts were proposed or adopted for the development of a common policy on asylum and migration by 2004 at the latest. The Commission proposed a directive on family reunification and another on the status of third country nationals who have been long-term residents. In addition, the Council adopted directives on the mutual recognition of decisions on the expulsion of third country nationals and on harmonising financial penalties imposed on carriers transporting into the Community third country nationals lacking the documents necessary for admission.

The Commission feels that an open procedure for coordination will lead to the identification of common objectives which will call for a European response. At the Tampere European Council, the Member States set out the four key areas for the development of a common policy on asylum and immigration, namely:

  • partnership with the countries of origin;
  • a common European asylum system;
  • fair treatment of third country nationals;
  • more efficient management of migration flows.

Following the drafting of a coherent legislative framework, the Commission undertakes to coordinate national policies, to exchange best practices, to monitor the impact of Community policy and to organise regular consultations with third countries.

The Commission proposes that the Council adopt multiannual guidelines for the Union accompanied by specific timetables for achieving the goals which they set in the short, medium and long term. These guidelines will be translated into national policy, which take into account national and regional differences. The Commission proposes that guidelines be established initially in the following areas: management of migration flows; admission of economic migrants; partnership with third countries and the integration of third country nationals.

The availability of comparable statistics is of crucial importance for the effective monitoring of the immigration policy. At present, Eurostat compiles migration data in its work on demography. However, the data collected do not give reasons for migration nor its duration. The Commission suggests that statistics on legal entry and stay be collected on a monthly basis.

Considering the different aspects (humanitarian, economic, etc.) linked to the migration policy, the Commission suggests six guidelines:

  • developing a comprehensive and coordinated approach to migration management at national level;
  • improving information available on legal possibilities for admission to the EU and the consequences of using illegal channels. The Commission proposes to develop information services in third countries and to promote cooperation between consular services of the Member States and local authorities;
  • reinforcing the fight against illegal immigration, smuggling and trafficking by supporting several measures such as tighter checks at the external borders and introducing effective penalties;
  • establishing a coherent and transparent policy and procedures for opening the labour market for third country nationals within the framework of the European employment strategy. The Commission is aware that several Member States actively recruit economic migrants, including skilled workers, to meet the increasing shortage of labour. It feels that procedures for processing applications for work permits should be simple and transparent. It calls on the Member States to adopt the necessary measures to fight against undeclared work and to improve the situation of migrant women;
  • integrating migration issues into relations with third countries, and in particular with countries of origin. The Commission suggests that a comprehensive and structured dialogue be held with third countries on the matter of human rights and development. It suggest that education and training programmes be organised in the countries of origin and that migrants should be encouraged to take part in development programmes and that it should be made easier for victims of smugglers to be integrated socially and economically;
  • ensuring the development of integration policies for third country nationals residing legally on the territories of the Member States (promoting the integration of migrants, alerting civil society to the problems of migrants, making provision for measures aimed at social and economic integration, etc.).

Member States should adopt annual national action plans in two parts. The first part would review measures implemented in the previous year and report on interesting experiences and problems encountered. The second part would consist of proposals relating to immigration for the coming year, Community and national objectives and the timetable for the implementation of the proposals.

On the basis of the national action plans, the Commission will present a summary report evaluating common problems and proposing solutions. In addition, given the multidimensional nature of the immigration policy, the Commission will present an annual report on migration to the European Parliament, the Social and economic Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

Moreover, the Commission undertakes to consult national experts, the representatives of the social partners and the NGOs in order to give active support to the preparation of a common immigration policy. It will ensure consistency of the immigration policy with other internal and external policies (employment, social policy, the fight against discrimination, development....).

The Commission will present an administrative cooperation action programme in the field of visas, asylum, immigration and other policies relating to free movement of persons (the ARGO programme which succeed the Odysseus programme).

In conclusion, the Commission undertakes, inter alia, to:

  • monitor the implementation of legislative provisions in this area;
  • present legislative proposals with a view to implementing a common policy;
  • prepare European guidelines to be adopted by the Council;
  • encourage the exchange of information between Member States;
  • incorporate immigration matters into relations with third countries;
  • examine the possibility of reforming the EURES network in order to provide information for third country nationals.

4) DEADLINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LEGISLATION IN THE MEMBER STATES

Not required

5) DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE (if different from the previous date)

Not required

6) REFERENCES

COM(2001)387 final
Not published in the Official Journal

7) FOLLOW-UP WORK

8) COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

 
Last updated: 08.10.2001
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