Strasbourg, 11 March 2014
Shaping the future of Home Affairs policies – the next phase
How can the EU's work on migration, asylum and security-related issues further contribute to ensuring Europe is an open, prosperous and safe place to live and work for all its citizens? The Stockholm Programme that has framed Home Affairs policies from 2010 to 2014 is coming to an end. The Commission is now presenting its strategic vision on the future political priorities in the area of Home Affairs.
Significant progress has already been made over the past five years to make Europe more open and secure thanks to the good and effective cooperation between the EU institutions, Member States, international organisations, civil society and the private sector. But the work is by no means over.
Today the Commission is presenting its vision on the future agenda for Home Affairs: there is a need to fully implement the agreed legislation and existing instruments and to ensure that the EU is able to respond to opportunities and challenges ahead.
"We can be proud of what has been achieved in recent years: the establishment of a Common European Asylum System, the reinforcement of the Schengen area, the strengthening of our response to organised crime, such as trafficking in human beings, online threats or corruption. But more needs to be done and we need to prepare for future challenges and opportunities. I want Europe to be forward-looking, with Home Affairs subjects contributing to economic growth and a safe environment for all European citizens. There are important choices to be made. We must join forces and develop policies that reflect common priorities and future needs", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
Europe is part of a globalised and interconnected world where international mobility is expected to increase. It should be ready to better use the opportunities offered by migration not least in the context of an ageing population and declining labour force.
Improvements could aim to: ensure better synergies with other policy areas, for example with trade policies and provide for short-term movement of highly-skilled professionals supplying services; initiate structural dialogues with Member States, businesses and trade unions on the demand for labour migration; step up recognition of foreign qualifications and professional skills; strengthen the commitment to effective integration of migrants in the labour market and receiving societies more generally.
The EU must be ready to deal with its asylum obligations in a way that reflects the true solidarity and sharing of responsibility by all Member States. A coherent and effective implementation of the new common asylum rules is needed. Future work should further ensure that support is provided at times of high temporary pressure. Relocation of beneficiaries of international protection is one example of solidarity. Other ideas that should be explored are the development of joint processing of asylum claims and pooling of reception places at times of emergency.
The EU should also increase its commitment to resettlement and consider opening legal avenues for people seeking protection, starting with a coordinated approach to humanitarian visas.
The existing external migration and asylum policy and its tools should be better exploited to deal with future developments on the EU's Southern borders, to engage more effectively with neighbouring countries and enhance the attractiveness of the EU. In an ever increasingly interdependent world, Home Affairs issues need to be embedded in the EU's overall external policy, allowing for reinforced dialogue and cooperation with third countries and synergy with other EU policies.
Preventing and reducing irregular migration is an essential part of any well-managed migration policy and requires a combination of measures, including: to take action against employers that hire illegal labour, to step up EU's approach in smuggling and trafficking in human beings, and to strengthen cooperation with countries of origin and transit.
The new Schengen governance can ensure that movement within the area without checks will continue to bring its full benefits to European citizens and its economy. Facilitating travel opportunities for legitimate travellers through a modernisation of the EU's visa policy and implementing the 'Smart Borders' initiative will contribute to making the Schengen area a more attractive destination for bona fide non-EU travellers, while maintaining a high level security.
To continue building a Europe that protects, there is a need to address new serious security challenges related to cybercrime, cross-border organised crime, trafficking in human beings, violent extremism and terrorism.
The implementation of the Internal Security Strategy adopted in 2010 allowed progress and its five objectives remain valid1, but concrete measures and actions must be reviewed. For instance, practical cooperation between law enforcement authorities in Member States must be strengthened (e.g. through Joint Investigation Teams, trainings, joint exercises, a better use of information exchange systems).
However, much more can also be done to: - fight corruption (following-up on the Anti-Corruption Report); - address human trafficking (a post-2016 Strategy should be established); - tackle illicit trafficking in firearms (by reviewing the existing EU legislation on the sale and intra-EU transfers, and stepping up operational cooperation); - respond to cyber security threats (by translating the EU cyber security strategy into action, encouraging all Member State to set up a cybercrime center, continuing the work of the Global Alliance against child sexual abuse online); - prevent terrorism and address radicalisation and recruitment (including through the strengthening of the Radicalisation Awareness Network); - enhance Europe's resilience to major crises and disasters (by improving the interoperability of equipment and communication systems); - address internal security as part of EU external policies and link it to EU assistance and cooperation programmes.
The Stockholm Programme, which framed Home Affairs policies since 2010 will expire in 2014. In view of this, in 2013, The Commission has launched a debate on the future challenges and priorities to be addressed by these policies in the coming years.
Today's Communication follows a series of events and debate on the future of Home Affairs policies, where stakeholders and civil society were able to share their views and ideas on issues related to the Home Affairs portfolio.
Seminars and hearings have taken place with think-tanks and civil society organisations. Stakeholders and citizens were also invited to share their views and ideas on the DG Home website, through a public consultation. On 29 and 30 January 2014 the Commission organised a high-level conference in Brussels to discuss future development of Home Affairs policies.
The Commission's Communication will contribute to the strategic guidelines to be adopted by the European Council in June 2014.
Link to MEMO: MEMO/14/174
Communication 'An open and secure Europe: making it happen'
EU Home Affairs in numbers: background statistics
Cecilia Malmström's website
Follow Commissioner Malmström on Twitter
DG Home Affairs website
Follow DG Home Affairs on Twitter and tweet with #euhome
The five strategic objectives chosen were (1) the disruption of international criminal networks, (2) the prevention of terrorism and addressing radicalisation and recruitment, (3) raising levels of security for citizens and businesses in cyberspace, (4) strengthening security through border management and (5) increasing Europe's resilience to crises and disasters.