EU action in the fields of migration and asylum
European Commission - MEMO/13/862 09/10/2013
Other available languages: BG
Brussels, 9 October 2013
EU action in the fields of migration and asylum
The European Union is developing a broad range of policies and instruments to manage the increasing challenge of migration, security of external borders and asylum. It does so in full respect with human rights and fundamental values. The EU action is complementing the competencies and action of Member States who in many cases (like in the area of residence permits, asylum decisions, reception of refugees, external border management etc.) retain exclusive competences. This MEMO provides an overview of current activities.
1. Surveillance and external border controls
The European Commission assists Member States in managing an increasing influx of migrants and asylum seekers and protecting the life of migrants trying to reach European shores.
The European Union aims to be an area of protection for those non-EU nationals coming to Europe to seek protection from persecution or violence. This means providing access to asylum procedures and dignified and decent conditions for those who apply for asylum (asylum seekers) and those granted protection (refugees). Asylum seekers are not irregular migrants and have the right to remain on the territory of an EU Member State during the period of their asylum application. Europe also addresses the issue of irregular migration and aims to ensure that we have a humane return policy with clear, transparent and fair common rules for the return of persons coming to the EU irregularly or those who have overstayed their visa-free period of up to three months, and who do not have the intention to seek protection.
Frontex was established to coordinate and facilitate the management of the external borders of the Union.
The Agency became fully operational on 3 October 2005 and is based in Warsaw (Poland). Its primary responsibility is to coordinate operational cooperation between Member States in managing the external borders of the EU (joint border operations and pilot projects) and to maintain a centralised record of technical equipment that Member States are ready to place at the disposal of other Member States.
Frontex has a budget of around 85 million euros for the year 2013 (see Frontex website).
The Agency constantly follows and assesses the development of movements along the main migratory routes in the Mediterranean and adjusts the joint operations accordingly. Should the situation so require, the implementation period of the on-going joint operations could be extended or other operations could be launched. Frontex is currently coordinating the following joint operations in the Mediterranean:
The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), soon to be operational, aims at increasing coordination within and between Member States to reinforce border surveillance, prevent and tackle serious crime, such as drug trafficking and the trafficking of human beings. EUROSUR also aims to make a serious contribution to the protection and saving of lives of migrants trying to reach European shores by sea by facilitating the detection and tracking of small vessels and helping to fight criminal networks that organise much of these crossings.
EUROSUR will provide Member States with a better picture of what is happening at sea. It will also ensure better coordination between Member States and with Frontex. For these purposes, EUROSUR provides a common framework for information exchange and interagency cooperation between border guards, police, customs, coast guards and navies. These authorities are required to cooperate via so-called national coordination centres for border surveillance, which are currently being established in each Member State and which closely cooperate with Frontex and other EU agencies.
Following the gradual development, testing and implementation EUROSUR is to become operational by the end of 2013.
The cost estimates for EUROSUR amount to €244 million for 2014-2020, including costs for set-up, maintenance and personnel. These costs would be almost fully covered by existing EU programmes under the current and next multiannual financial framework of the Union.
For more detailed information on EUROSUR: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-578_en.htm
2. EU Cooperation with countries of origin and transit of migrants: Global Approach to Migration
The EU continues to address the phenomenon of migration flows through dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin and transit of migrants and by opening new channels for legal migration. The European Commission has been engaging with several countries of North-Africa to agree on a concerted manner to better manage migration flows and promote mobility in a secure environment.
The events in the Arab world and the unrest, revolution and war that followed during the course of 2011 led the EU to acknowledge the need to re-think its policy approach towards the Southern Mediterranean, including in the domain of migration. Migration and mobility now feature as key components of the new Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean, as launched in March 2011 by the European Commission and the High Representative.
Subsequently, the European Commission called for the EU to strengthen its external migration policy by setting up partnerships with non-EU countries that make cooperation on migration “mutually beneficial” – so-called ‘Dialogues for Migration, Mobility and Security’.
This approach was reinforced by the adoption of the EU’s renewed Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) in November 2011, which provides the overarching framework of EU's renewed external migration policy with a stronger emphasis on promoting well-managed mobility, enhancing the development benefits of migration, strengthening international protection and promoting the human rights of migrants. The GAMM is implemented through regional and bilateral dialogues, with policy tools known as Mobility Partnerships are foreseen as the principal instruments for bilateral cooperation.
The European Commission underscores the necessity for the GAMM to be “complementary to other, broader objectives that are served by EU foreign policy and development cooperation” and to “address migration and mobility, foreign policy and development objectives in a coherent and integrated way.
Consequently, autumn 2011 saw Dialogues on Migration, Mobility and Security launched with Tunisia and Morocco. In 2013 a similar dialogue started with Jordan. Other countries in the region may follow suit, once the required circumstances are in place. These dialogues cover the entire spectrum of potential cooperation, including how to address irregular migration and smuggling and trafficking of human beings, how to develop legal alternatives for those who wish to travel or migrate to the EU, how to strengthen asylum systems and international protection capacities in partner countries and how to maximise the impact of migration on development.
In the course of these dialogues partners may decide to establish a Mobility Partnership. Such a partnership was already signed with Morocco (July 2013). Discussions with Tunisia on the same are in an advanced stage. Mobility Partnerships include the commitment to negotiate a visa facilitation agreement, in parallel with a readmission agreement. It may include labour and circular migration schemes, flanked by a package of capacity-building measures in the areas of asylum (e.g. development of asylum legislation), migration and development (e.g. facilitating low-cost remittances and measures for countering brain drain) and measures to support the respect for fundamental rights for third country nationals in the partner country. It also covers working arrangements with Frontex; cooperation in joint surveillance operations in the Mediterranean sea; and capacity building on other aspects of integrated border management
The EU recently agreed Mobility Partnership with Morocco (IP/13/513) takes account of the interests and objectives of all involved: the EU, its Member States, the partner countries and the migrants themselves. It establishes a set of political objectives and provides for a series of initiatives which are designed to ensure that the movement of persons is managed as effectively as possible.
Further, the EU has launched the project Euro-Med Migration III (3 years 2012-2014, EUR 5 million) which aims to foster cooperation on migratory issues between the ENPI South partner countries and EU countries and then among ENPI South partner countries themselves. In line with the framework’s objective and building upon the results of the previous phases the EUROMED Migration III project aim to assist partner countries in their own efforts to strengthen their migration governance.
This can be outlined as:
3. Asylum: The EU as an area of protection
A) The Common European Asylum System
Asylum is granted to people fleeing persecution or serious harm in their own country and therefore in need of international protection. Asylum is a fundamental right; granting it is an international obligation, first recognised in the 1951 Geneva Convention on the protection of refugees. In the EU, an area of open borders and freedom of movement, countries share the same fundamental values and Member States need to have a joint approach to guarantee high standards of protection for refugees. Procedures must at the same time be fair and effective throughout the EU and impervious to abuse. With this in mind, the EU States have committed to establishing a Common European Asylum System (CEAS). Since 1999, the EU has been working to create a CEAS and improve the current legislative framework.
New EU rules have now been agreed, setting out common high standards and stronger co-operation to ensure that asylum seekers are treated equally in an open and fair system – wherever they apply. In short:
• The revised Asylum Procedures Directive aims at fairer, quicker and better quality asylum decisions. Asylum seekers with special needs will receive the necessary support to explain their claim and in particular there will be greater protection of unaccompanied minors and victims of torture.
• The revised Reception Conditions Directive ensures that there are humane material reception conditions (such as housing) for asylum seekers across the EU and that the fundamental rights of the concerned persons are fully respected. It also ensures that detention is only applied as a measure of last resort.
• The revised Qualification Directive clarifies the grounds for granting international protection and therefore will make asylum decisions more robust. It will also improve the access to rights and integration measures for beneficiaries of international protection.
• The revised Dublin Regulation enhances the protection of asylum seekers during the process of establishing the State responsible for examining the application, and clarifies the rules governing the relations between states. It creates a system to detect early problems in national asylum or reception systems, and address their root causes before they develop into fully fledged crises.
• The revised EURODAC Regulation will allow law enforcement access to the EU database of the fingerprints of asylum seekers under strictly limited circumstances in order to prevent, detect or investigate the most serious crimes, such as murder, and terrorism.
Statistics and figures on asylum:
B) European Asylum Support Office
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is a regulatory agency, an independent European body which will work closely with the national authorities responsible for asylum, the European Commission, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Its main tasks are:
C) Common principles for integration of immigrants
The successful integration of immigrants into society in the host country is the key to maximising the opportunities of legal migration and making the most of the contributions that immigrants can make to the economic, social and cultural development of European societies. Although the EU level has no competences in the field of integration of immigrants, it is supporting national and local policies with policy coordination, exchange of knowledge and financial support for integration.
In July 2011, the Commission proposed a European agenda for the integration of non-EU migrants, focusing on action to increase economic, social, cultural and political participation by migrants and putting the emphasis on local action. This new agenda highlights challenges that need to be solved if the EU is to benefit fully from the potential offered by migration and the value of diversity. It also explores the role of countries of origin in the integration process.
D) Common rules for managing the return of irregular migrants
A humane and effective return policy — in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and based on the principle of giving preference to voluntary return — is essential to a comprehensive and sustainable migration policy. At the end of 2010, the common standards on return (the so-called "Return Directive"), agreed by EU States in 2008, entered into force. They provide for clear, transparent and fair common rules for the return and removal, the use of coercive measures, detention and re-entry, while fully respecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the persons concerned.
Key features of the Directive include:
4. Solidarity and burden-sharing amongst EU Member States and with third countries
A) Funding for migration, asylum and borders
In order to ensure the fair sharing of responsibilities between EU countries for the financial costs that arises from the integrated management of the Union's external borders and from the implementation of common asylum and immigration policies, funding from Commission's four migration-related funds (the External Borders Fund, the Return Fund, the Refugee Fund and the Integration Fund) are available to Member States. Almost 4 billion is allocated for 2007-13.
Through these funds, the EU not only seeks to strengthen its common migration, asylum and border policies, but also to uphold European solidarity, so that those EU countries that face the largest financial burden are adequately supported.
These structural measures are complemented by emergency assistance for Member States who find themselves under pressure. Emergency funding can help Member States cope with a sudden flow of immigrants at their borders or situations where the reception capacities are put under particular pressure.
New tools will be created under the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, namely the Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF), which will support Member States in the field of asylum and migration, including integration and return. Implementation is currently being discussed by the European Council and the European Parliament. Highest recipient with 370 million euro for the seven year period will be the UK, followed by Italy with 310 million euro.
A breakdown of funding available per country/per year can be found at (see also table in annex):http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/financing/fundings/mapping-funds/index_en.htm
B) Relocation and resettlement
Member States should show solidarity with each other and assist third countries bearing the greatest burden, through the relocation of persons who are beneficiaries of international protection and the resettlement to Europe of refugees stranded in third countries neighbouring.
The Commission remains fully behind the policy of relocation. It already promotes a project of relocation of beneficiaries of international protection (EUREMA I and II) that has been undertaken in Malta. The Commission encourages strongly Member States to take part to relocation measures, which remain however a voluntary activity by Member States. That is why the Commission organised the first annual relocation forum on 25 September 2013 in order to assist Member States to determine their pledges for relocation. The Commission intends, under the future Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF), to provide a lump sum of cash to governments that relocate beneficiaries of international protection as an incentive.
Refugee resettlement is not only a life-saving measure but an important solidarity gesture on the part of receiving EU countries towards third countries hosting large numbers of refugees. To involve more EU States in resettlement activities, to provide for orderly and secure access to protection for those resettled and to demonstrate greater solidarity with non-EU countries in receiving refugees, the EU adopted, in March 2012, a joint Resettlement Program. This EU-wide resettlement scheme, proposed by the Commission in 2009, will help EU States, on a voluntary basis, in finding sustainable solutions for refugees.
In the current context, showing solidarity with the countries neighbouring Syria that are under pressure through resettlement can help to maintain 'protection space', as well as contributing to dialogue and cooperation on other issues of migration and border management.
The European Refugee Fund offers financial support in view of facilitating the resettlement of persons in need of international protection in the form of a lump sum per person resettled, and this amount will likely be increased under the future AMF.
So far, UN High Commissioner for Refugees has called on the international community for targeted humanitarian admission of 10.000 Syrians and resettlement of further 2.000 most vulnerable cases in 2013. Several Member States have responded to this call, and others should be encouraged to follow this example. If the refugee situation in the countries neighbouring Syria develops into a protracted one, there will likely be calls for larger-scale resettlement efforts.
C) Temporary protection
Temporary protection is an exceptional measure to provide displaced persons from non-EU countries and unable to return to their country of origin, with immediate and temporary protection. It applies in the event of a mass influx of displaced persona arriving in the EU coming from a specific country/geographic area (arriving either spontaneously or via an evacuation programme) and when there is a risk that the asylum system of one or more Member State is struggling/would struggle to cope with the situation.
The Commission would be ready to consider proposing the use of the mechanism foreseen under the 2001 Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC), if the conditions foreseen in the directive are met.
Consideration could only be given to taking this step if it is clear that the persons concerned are likely to be in need of international protection, if they cannot be safely returned to their countries-of-origin, and if the numbers of persons arriving who are in need of protection are sufficiently great.
Resort to this mechanism would allow for the immediate protection and reception in the territory of EU Member States for persons concerned, as well as offering a "breathing space" for the national asylum systems of the Member States most directly affected.
Temporary protection is triggered by a Council decision (to be adopted by qualified majority) based on a Commission proposal.
D) EU instruments and projects in support of 3rd countries
The SEAHORSE programme which started last September and is implemented by the Spanish border guards will increase the capacity of the authorities of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt to tackle irregular migration and illicit trafficking by strengthening their border surveillance systems including their ability to respond to emergencies requiring search and rescue of stranded migrants or asylum seekers.
Through the Thematic Programme for Migration and Asylum several initiatives are being implemented for a global amount of 20.6 M€ focussing on the prevention and management of irregular migration, the strengthening of border management, the assisted voluntary return and reintegration of stranded migrants as well as the strengthening of the capacities for effective and protection-sensitive management of mixed migration movements in Libya. In particular:
Additional instruments exist to support various activities in the field of migration:
5. The EU humanitarian aid for refugees
Refugees are among the most vulnerable in humanitarian crises, especially since they often find themselves in other countries where host communities are impoverished themselves and struggle to cope with the influx of newcomers. In third countries, the European Commission supports refugees through its humanitarian budget. In 2012, more than 10 million refugees were supported by the Commission's humanitarian aid.
Through its funding, the Commission assists refugees by:
The Commission helps refugees in third countries through organisations which deal with migrants, refugees and IDPs including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration, the Red Cross and Red Crescent family and non-governmental organisations. Through this support, the Commission's action paves the way for durable solutions for refugees and IDPs. It coordinates its assistance with the organisations in charge of early recovery and development.
While supporting the victims of displacement, the European Commission is also working to decrease the number and scale of refugee crises: for instance, through its work on disaster preparedness and prevention, which aims to reduce the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities and prevent their displacement.
The Syrian crisis: EU biggest donor, leading international aid response
The Syrian civil war has created a human catastrophe: over 2 million Syrian refugees have fled their country and are registered or awaiting-registration in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and North Africa. This number is rising daily as hostilities continue. The High Commissioner for Refugees office projects a total of 3.45 million refugees from Syria by the end of 2013. The continuous influx of Syrians is increasing the burden on the host communities and is fuelling tensions in some areas. Countries bordering Syria are approaching a dangerous saturation point and they need urgent support to continue keeping borders open and assisting refugees. Assessment of the conditions of refugees living outside the camps is needed as well as humanitarian aid (especially shelter and water, hygiene and sanitation). The UN estimates that more than 4.25 million people have also been displaced within Syria. Every day of violence adds to this number.
The EU has so far mobilised almost € 1.8 billion in relief and recovery aid from both the Commission and Member States, making it the largest international contribution accounting for a significant proportion of the overall global funding.
European assistance reaches up to 80% of the population affected by the crisis and brings concrete and tangible results that make a difference for those affected by the Syria crisis and is having an immediate impact:
6. Migration and EU Development policies
The total number of international migrants rose from 150 million in 2000 to 214 million in 2010. Over half of these migrants reside in low- and middle income countries, and many developing countries are simultaneously countries of origin and destination of migrants. This increases regional and global mobility creates opportunities; contributing for instance to poverty reduction and innovation. Migration can indeed drive progress towards achieving development goals, especially in sectors most influenced by demographics and labour issues. It contributes to development not only in economic terms, but also in social and environmental areas.
But it also requires effective governance in order to address challenges such as ‘brain drain’ (outward migration of educated people), migrant exploitation and the effects of migration on urbanisation.
A) What is the EU doing about it?
The European Union can claim to be a leading donor when it comes to migration and development and will continue to provide substantial support in the years to come. The EU has committed almost 1 billion EUR to more than 400 projects focused on migration between 2004 and 2012 (globally). The majority of these projects have focused on improving migration management in our partner countries, which will remain a priority in the future.
A key objective of EU development assistance is to support developing countries in meeting their obligations to respect the human rights of migrants and managing migration in line with their development objectives.
On the policy level, migration is also a specific priority in the EU Agenda for Change, the Commission’s development policy blueprint to refocus its work to focus on those countries and sectors which most need support.
The European Commission presented earlier this year its views on how migration and mobility can contribute to inclusive and economic social development. The aim of this Communication was to strengthen global cooperation to making migration a driver for development
The Commission also continues to play an active role in different policy dialogues and processes between the EU and partner countries on migration and asylum in the region, such as the Rabat Process on Migration and Development, the EU-Africa Migration, Mobility and Employment Partnership and the EU-ACP Migration Dialogue. These dialogues prove to effectively foster cooperation and exchange of best practices between countries of origin, transit and destination in all areas of migration management.
On the financial level, the main instrument to address migration issues in our partner countries from a development perspective is the Thematic Programme for Migration and Asylum. It counts with a budget of €384 million for the period 2007-2013. It includes six main areas of intervention, namely:
Apart from the Thematic Programme, migration related actions are also supported under geographic instruments.
Since 2001, the EU has implemented more than 250 migration and asylum related activities in partner countries in the Middle East and Africa for an amount of more than €500 million.
B) Project examples
Horn of Africa
In 2010 the Commission funded a two-year €5 million Regional Protection Programme in the Horn of Africa, namely Kenya, Djibouti and Yemen, with the aim of improving the protection and delivery of assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in the region. In addition, as a result of the large influx of Somali refugees into Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, a second phase of the programme was adopted in 2011. Its main objectives are not only to improve the access of refugees, mainly Somalis, to legal assistance, to territory and education in both urban areas and camps but also to implement a self-reliance strategy aiming at increasing the skills and employability of refugees and host communities in camps.
The European Commission will finance a project with the International Organization for Migration (€1.2 million) that aims to strengthen regional coordination for a better protection of vulnerable and trafficked migrant children. This 24 month project will support the efforts of the governments of Yemen, Ethiopia and Djibouti to protect and promote the human rights of unaccompanied minors and separated children along the Gulf of Aden Migration Route.
Another project (EU contribution: €2,5 million) aimed at improving the protection of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who have been displaced in the Horn of Africa and, in many cases, have moved across the Gulf of Aden or Red Sea to Yemen. Implemented by the Danish Refugee Council in the period 2010 – 2012, the project contributed to improving information and understanding of the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants by beneficiaries, communities and governments in Somalia and Yemen. It also contributed to enhancing institutional and legal capacities and practices of government authorities dealing with migration flows in accordance with human rights. Moreover, the project supported the establishment of the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) in Nairobi which supports agencies, institutions and forums in the Horn of Africa and Yemen sub-region
EU cooperation on migration with Mauritania
Mauritania has always been a transit country with a flow of migrants coming from neighbouring countries, escaping conflicts but also using it as a transit point to Europe. It is estimated that around 84,000 migrants reside in Mauritania and that around 65,000 Mauritanians live abroad.
The EU is supporting the government's strategy on migration with the objective of developing a more comprehensive and structured policy. It is currently funding a €8 million project until 2017, which will aim to: support the creation of a national body that implements migration policies; protect migrants’ and refugees’ rights by insuring access to education, health and work; improve border controls in accordance with bilateral and international treaties signed by Mauritania. The project will directly benefit all migrants but also the population at large through better management of labour migration.
EU cooperation with Somalia
An on-going project under the Instrument for Stability (IfS) contributes to increasing security of the Kenyan Dadaab camp for Somali refugees, through support for improved living conditions for police officers, trainings for police officers and promoting a community policing network (budget: €2,100,000).
During the Somalia New Deal Conference on 16 September 2013 in Brussels, where the Somali Compact was endorsed, the EU pledged 650 million euro support to enable its implementation and committed to the new political process in Somalia.
EU cooperation with Mali
EU funding to Mali totals 727.8 million for the period 2008-2013. Focal sectors include governance (decentralisation, supporting Mali to define a migration policy), economic development for the North and Delta du Niger region (infrastructures) and general budget support.
EU cooperation with Eritrea
Support to Eritrea is currently limited to the agricultural sector and food security (€41.5 million) and to governance (support to the Community Courts in Eritrea: €5 million; Capacity Building of the public administration in Eritrea: €3.4 million, and EDF Technical Cooperation Facility €2 million).
Annex 1 - General Programme "Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows"