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Brussels, 24 May 2011

EU migration and asylum policies: main achievements and the way ahead

The second Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (for 2010) follows the request made by the European Council when adopting the 2008 Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

1. What does the Annual Report address?

The report takes stock of progress made during 2010 at EU and national level in implementing the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum and relevant components of the Stockholm Programme, as well as presenting recommendations for the coming year. It builds on last year's annual report and complements the forward looking Communication on Migration adopted on the 4th May.

Topics addressed are legal and labour migration, asylum, integration, irregular migration, border control, unaccompanied minors and the Global Approach to Migration.

2. What are the recommendations arising from these papers?

On legal and labour migration:

  • The current mismatch between labour market needs and skills supply needs to be addressed by the Member States. Meeting these needs via managed inward migration of suitably skilled third country nationals should be central to this effort.

  • Better recognition at EU level of skills and qualifications obtained outside the EU would mean that people can fully make use of their potential in their jobs. More geographically flexible labour markets would allow migrants to change employers, possibly located in different Member States, more easily. Such mobility should preserve their residence rights and lead to a better matching of labour market supply and demand.

  • In the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy it is stated that immigration could play an important role in meeting labour and skills shortages. This should be taken into account by Member States and the EU.

  • Member States must transpose fully and in time (June 2011) the "Blue Card" Directive for highly skilled migrants.

  • An agreement on the Single Permit Directive as well as significant progress on the proposals on Seasonal employment and Intra-corporate transferees must be achieved in the coming months.

On Asylum:

  • Negotiations on all asylum legislative proposals must be finalised by the end of 2012, as agreed by the European Council.

  • The recent events in the Southern Mediterranean confirm the necessity of having in place a common asylum system at EU level. This implies better EU legislation, strengthened practical cooperation coordinated by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), concrete solidarity between Member States and increased cooperation with third countries.

  • Agreement must be reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the EU joint resettlement scheme.

  • The EU relocation pilot project with Malta, the legislative reforms adopted by Greece and the ongoing support the country has received in the implementation of the Action Plan are concrete examples of the combination of responsibility and solidarity that are needed to build the Common European Asylum System.

On Integration:

  • The EU must progressively ensure an effective social and economic integration of third country nationals – both men and women – in order to realise the full potential of migration, growth and cohesion.

  • The EU can reconcile migrants' contribution to economic growth with social cohesion. Tangible results will be possible only if Member States incorporate integration issues in all relevant policy areas. A 'bottom-up' approach, based on an effective governance system at local/regional level, is the best way to achieve this.

  • A proactive information and communication strategy should be put in place at EU, national and local levels, in order to allow an informed debate about the impact of migration.

On preventing irregular migration:

  • Member States must fully transpose the Employer Sanctions Directive by July 2011, which is essential for preventing irregular migration and for the credibility of legal migration.

  • Member States must step up measures against trafficking in human beings, including assistance given to victims under Directive 2004/81/EC with a view to dismantling networks of traffickers while strengthening rights of the victims.

  • Member States must fully transpose and implement the Return Directive and continue to make use of the opportunity offered by this Directive to foster voluntary departure as the preferred return option.

  • The use of joint return flights should be continued, by making full use of the European Return Fund and FRONTEX coordination, and including the presence of forced return monitors as required under the Return Directive.

  • Member States should systematically add entry bans in the Schengen Information System in order to give full effect to the European dimension of entry bans issued under the Return Directive.

On effective Border Control:

  • The European Parliament and the Council must agree on the proposed amendment to the FRONTEX Regulation as soon as possible, to provide a proper legal basis to strengthen the functioning of the agency.

  • All Schengen border-crossing points should be properly equipped, border surveillance properly ensured, and border guards trained to use new IT tools, as stipulated in the Schengen Border Code.

  • The feasibility of setting up a European Borders Guard System should be considered.

  • Local Schengen cooperation must be fully exploited in order to ensure a fully harmonised and streamlined visa procedure, in particular for the benefit of bona fide travellers.

  • Member States should continue to prepare the ground for establishing EUROSUR, the entry/exit system and the registered traveller programme.

  • To better coordinate the checks at the external borders the Commission will present proposals in 2012, in order to improve interagency cooperation between FRONTEX, EUROPOL, national customs and police authorities.

On Unaccompanied Minors:

  • The EU and the Member States must continue to implement the 2010 Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors.

On the external approach to the EU's migration policy:

  • The external dimension of the EU migration policy needs to reflect the EU labour market priorities and the role of immigration, in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy.

  • The Global Approach to Migration needs to become a more long-term, balanced and sustainable policy framework to address the geographic and thematic priorities of the EU.

  • The EU will offer a structured dialogue on migration, mobility and security to its partner countries, in view of establishing Mobility Partnerships, which will cover initiatives on legal migration and visa facilitation.

3. What are the next steps?

The Report will contribute to the preparation for the European Council’s debate on immigration and asylum policies which will take place on 24 June 2011.

4. What is the accompanying report?

The Commission Staff Working Paper addresses in more detail the significant activity and developments that have occurred during 2010, at both EU and national level. This paper also includes an annex highlighting the key statistics (permits issued, irregular migration, borders, asylum applications and unaccompanied minors) for each Member State.

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