Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Commission prepares one-size-fits-all EU immigration rules

News @ European Commission. The European Commission, the French Presidency and the European Council are united on Freedom, Security and Justice policies. Under new measures proposed by the Commission, the British Government will have even less power to decide on asylum and immigration matters. On 17 June, the European Commission adopted two communications which will plan to take forward the EU common immigration and asylum policy. The Commission is expecting to obtain the endorsement of the European Council in October to both communications which will contribute to the 2009 debate on the definition of a new 5-year Programme in the Justice, Freedom and Security area. The communication “A Common immigration policy for Europe: principles, actions and tools” is planning to contribute to the development of a common immigration policy over the next few years. A common immigration policy is one of the EU’s existing priorities. The Commission has proposed common principles on which the common immigration policy should be based. However, the Commission has not limited itself to indicating principles – it has already proposed concrete action for their implementation.

According to the Commission, “immigration for economic purposes should respond to a common needs-based assessment of EU labour markets addressing all skills levels and sectors in order to enhance the knowledge-based economy of Europe, to advance economic growth and to meet labour market requirements.” In order to achieve this, Member States would be required to develop “national immigration profiles” in order to provide data on immigrant numbers as well as immigrant participation in the national labour market. The Commission also urges the Member States to increase the “effectiveness of labour-matching policies and tools”, meaning more investment in the education and training for third-country workers in order to match their skills with the needs of national labour markets. Member States would be required to invest more in measures endeavouring to bring unemployed third country nationals who are legally residing in the EU Member States into employment. The Commission also stressed that host Member States must strengthen their efforts to integrate legal immigrants and has called on the Member States to effectively apply EU law which provides third country nationals with the same treatment as EU nationals in coordinating social security schemes across the EU. The Commission has pointed out that a common immigration policy must be based on solidarity among the Member States.

According to the Commission “… no Member State can effectively control or deal with all aspects of immigration on their own and therefore decisions likely to have an impact on other Member States need to be coordinated.” Member States would no longer be entitled to determine their national immigration policies. Last February, the European Commission adopted a package on the management of the EU’s external borders aiming to set up an integrated EU policy on border management and to ensure a uniform and high level of control and surveillance (see The European Journal, April 2007 issue). In this present communication, the Commission has reiterated its wishes to extend FRONTEX powers. The Commission has suggested that the Member States should increase the use of biometrics with the aim of fighting illegal immigration. The Commission has pointed out that “Effective return measures are an indispensable component of the EU’s policy on illegal immigration.” Therefore, the Commission has asked the Member States to provide the return policy with a “genuine European dimension.” The European Commission has called for a common approach on regularization. Member States would be required to report to the Commission each year on the implementation of the common objectives and on their national immigration profiles. Based on Member States’ reports, the Commission will draft an annual report for the European Council to make a political assessment of the situation and to issue recommendations.

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