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European Commission - Press release

European Council: The Commission will take forward and intensify the work on migration and asylum policy

Brussels, 24 June 2011 – The European Commission welcomes the conclusions adopted today by the European Council on asylum and migration issues.

"I am very pleased with the attention given by the European Council to asylum, migration, free movement of persons and border issues. Indeed these topics will shape the future of Europe and there is a need for political steer to further develop a strong common policy.

First of all, I would like to underline the political commitment to intensify the ongoing negotiations on the asylum legislative proposals, so that a Common European Asylum System can be agreed upon by 2012. Europe needs a common asylum system which is efficient but which at the same time provides effective protection for those fleeing persecution and violence. Thanks to the clear message from the European Council, I am confident that we can reach our goal within the deadline set.

The full recognition by European Leaders of the free movement of persons as a core principle of the European Union and as a fundamental right is of the utmost importance as it acknowledges the need to protect Schengen, an area without internal borders. Effective border controls are an essential pre-requisite for safeguarding the integrity of Schengen in the years ahead. The Commission will respond to the call of the European Council for an effective and reliable monitoring and evaluation system and to its invitation to make a proposal for a mechanism by September.

Finally, I welcome the European Council's commitment to launch migration dialogues with the countries of the Southern Mediterranean, dialogues which will deal with all aspects of migration, mobility and security. The Commission is determined to engage in constructive dialogues in an effort to support these countries in their transition towards democracy and to work with migration and mobility in a way that is mutually beneficial", said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström.

Recent initiatives from the Commission on asylum and migration policy prepared the ground for discussions between EU Heads of State and Government. Following up on the European Council conclusions, the Commission will now focus on:

1- Ensuring that the Common European Asylum System is completed by 2012

The European Council sent a clear signal calling for an effective, fair and protective Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by 2012.

  • The Commission will continue to support the efforts by the Council and the European Parliament to swiftly reach an agreement on the asylum package as a whole. The modified proposals on the Asylum Procedures and Reception Conditions Directives, adopted recently by the Commission (IP/11/665 and MEMO/11/365), should facilitate the negotiations between the two co-legislators and enable progress on all the remaining instruments of the CEAS.

2- Reinforcing the management of external borders – guaranteeing the free movement of persons

It is necessary to maintain high levels of security at our external borders while making border crossing simpler for those who travel or migrate legally to the EU.

  • The Commission will protect the achievement of Schengen as an area without internal border controls. Besides the establishment of a stronger monitoring evaluation system to verify the correct application of the Schengen rules, the Commission has started reflecting on a mechanism to be used in critical situations when a Member State fails to fulfil its obligations at the borders or when a particular portion of the border comes under heavy pressure. The possibility to temporarily reintroduce border controls could be included in the Schengen evaluation mechanism, as a last resort measure and under strict conditions. The Commission is ready to present its proposal in the early autumn.

  • Towards the end of the year (December), the Commission will present legislative proposals on a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), with the aim of ensuring that operational information about any incident at the external border can be exchanged in real-time between neighbouring Member States. The system should to be operational by 2013.

  • The Commission will also further develop an integrated border management system that makes full use of new technologies. The establishment of a European Entry/Exit system, ensuring that data on the crossing of the border by third country nationals is available for border controls and immigration authorities, and of a registered traveller programme, allowing third country nationals to use automated border control and thereby making access to the EU easier, will be presented in a Communication scheduled for autumn this year. It will be followed by legislative proposals in the spring of 2012.

3- Promoting cooperation with third countries

The latest developments across the Mediterranean Sea call for a consistent approach and the EU should be ready to help, cooperate and offer perspectives.

  • The Commission is ready to engage with Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt in Dialogues on migration, mobility and security. Such dialogues will pave the way to concluding Mobility Partnerships that bring together all the measures needed to manage migration and mobility in a mutually beneficial way. Promoting people-to-people contacts, giving better opportunities to students, researchers and business people to travel between the EU and its partners on the other side of the Mediterranean can bring important contributions to the socio-economic development of the whole region. In the future, more countries in the region could be considered, including Libya when sufficient conditions are met (IP/11/629 and MEMO/11/330).

  • In November 2011, the Commission will present the evaluation and future development of the Global Approach to Migration. The aim is to further develop a comprehensive European approach to dealing with migration issues in its relations with third countries, bringing together the different policy areas of development, social affairs and employment, external relations and home affairs. This will enable us to enhance dialogue and operational cooperation with our partners, both from a long term perspective and in quick responses to crisis and emergency situations.

Background

On 4 May 2011, the Commission adopted a Communication on Migration which details the components of a wide ranging policy on migration, addresses the current crisis in the Southern Mediterranean and looks at migration and asylum issues in the longer term as well (IP/11/532 and MEMO/11/273).

For more information

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/welcome/default_en.htm

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)


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