Migration policy


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Migration policy

  2. 2. EU MIGRATION POLICY Migration is a complex phenomenon which involves EuropeanUnion countries. According to the data published by Eurostat, thepopulation of the EU was 497.4 million persons in 2008; of these 30.8millions were foreigners living in the EU (6.2 % of the total population), ofwhich almost two thirds (19.5 millions) were citizens of a non-memberState, while one third (11.3 millions) were citizens of another EU country. The largest numbers of foreign citizens in 2008 reside in Germany(7.3 millions), Spain (5.3 millions), the United Kingdom (4.0 millions),France (3.7 millions) and Italy (3.4 millions). The most significant numbers of third-country nationals residing inthe EU come from Turkey, Morocco, Albania and China, but citizenshipstructures of foreign population vary considerably across Member States,on the basis of geographical proximity, political factors, historical ties orcommon language. On the one hand migration can be considered an opportunity both forimmigrants and for hosting societies, but on the other hand it can representa problem if governments do not develop adequate policies. In my opinion, for an overall understanding of the phenomenon, it isuseful to distinguish three different kinds of immigrants: legal immigrants,illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. First of all, legal immigrants are those third-country nationals whogo to a European country and reside there with all the necessary documentsrequired by the law (basically visa and permit of stay). They can legallystay in a member State for different reasons: e.g. working, studying, familyreunification. Each member States decides the procedures for the admission oflegal immigrants.Donatella Candura 2
  3. 3. Secondly, illegal immigrants are those foreigners who enter aEuropean country avoiding border controls or who, after having legallyentered, reside in a European country without the necessary permission.The consequence of their illegal stay is that they are expelled, according tothe law of the State. Finally, asylum seekers are those people who leave their country andapply for protection in another State for fear of being persecuted in theirhome country for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of aparticular social group or political opinion. The 1951 Geneva Conventiondefines the status of refugee and lays down a common internationalapproach towards refugees. The above mentioned three categories of immigrants requiredifferent treatments and different approaches. Besides, inside each group it is possible to distinguish other specificcategories, like unaccompanied minors, victims of abuse and so on. With regard to my work experience, I deal with all the abovementioned types of immigrants. Indeed, in Italy the issues related toimmigration and asylum are placed in the sphere of competence of theMinistry of Interior. I work in Caltanissetta (Sicily) at the local branch ofthe Italian Ministry of Interior, which is called “Prefettura”. Currently, Iam the chief of the unit which deals with civil rights, citizenship, legalstatus of foreigners, immigration and asylum. The main topic of my office is immigration and asylum. Indeed, inCaltanissetta there is one of the biggest camps in Italy for the firstaccomodation of asylum seekers and for the detention of illegalimmigrants. In this field, I work in cooperation with the local police and also themain local, national and international bodies which deal with immigrationand asylum (UNHCR, IOM).Donatella Candura 3
  4. 4. In addition, since sometimes the camp is visited by foreigndeputations, I have the opportunity to be in touch with members ofParliaments, civil servants and members of NGOs coming from othercountries. Therefore, my main current responsibilities concern:coordination and administration of people, cooperation with other bodiesand organizations, writing reports, drafting projects, solving problems andmaking decisions on many topics related to immigration (workauthorizations, family reunification, expulsion procedures, citizenship) andasylum. On the whole, I consider that the most interesting part of my job isdealing more with human beings than with papers. On the basis of my personal experience in the field, I think thatmigration requires coordination and cooperation among EU countries.Member States differ with regard to policies on the issues of migration andresidence of third-country nationals, but the EU is trying to build up acommon policy on immigration. Building a common policy in the field of migration is difficult, sinceimmigration is linked to other topics, like security, borders control,freedom of movement. In addition, from a political point of view it is a sensitive issue whichconcerns public opinion. So it can be difficult to find a common viewbecause governments and political parties have got different ideas on howmigration policies should be developed. At a European level, migration is part of the policy area “justice,freedom and security”. EU policies on migration and asylum have evolved from theAmsterdam Treaty, through the implementation of the Tampere programmeand the Hague programme. The Stockholm programme, adopted at theDecember 2009 European Council, sets a framework and some principlesDonatella Candura 4
  5. 5. for the future development of European migration policies for the period2010-2014. The basis for immigration and asylum EU common policy is theEuropean Pact on immigration and asylum, adopted in September 2008. In particular, the Pact makes five basic commitments: 1) to organise legal immigration to take account of the priorities, needs and reception capacities determined by each Member State and to encourage integration; 2) to control illegal immigration by ensuring that illegal immigrants return to their countries of origin; 3) to make border controls more effective; 4) to construct a Europe of asylum; 5) to create a comprehensive partnership with the countries of origin and of transit in order to encourage the synergy between migration and development. Therefore, coming back to the classification of different type ofimmigrants, the analysis of European policies on migration is thefollowing. With regard to legal immigrants, the European policy aims are: toimplement policies for labour migration that take account of the needs ofthe labour market of each country; to increase the attractiveness of the EUfor highly skilled workers and take new measures to further facilitate thereception and mobility of students and researchers; to ensure that thesepolicies do not aggravate brain drain by encouraging circular migration; topromote the exchange of best practices in reception and integration and onEU measures to support national integration policies. With regard to irregular immigration, the European policyconsists in: concluding EU level or bilateral readmission agreements withDonatella Candura 5
  6. 6. non-EU countries; ensuring that the risks of irregular migration areprevented within the policy frameworks on entry, residence, freedom ofmovement, etc.; developing cooperation between EU countries on theremoval of migrants without legal authorisation to reside in an EU country;stepping up cooperation with countries of origin and transit as part of theGlobal Approach to Migration in order to control irregular immigration;inviting EU countries to devise incentive systems for assisted voluntaryreturn; taking rigorous action through dissuasive and proportionatepenalties against those exploiting immigrants without legal authorisation toreside in an EU country; putting into full effect the applicability within theUnion of an expulsion decision taken by any EU country. Besides, a European Agency for the Management of OperationalCooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the EuropeanUnion (Frontex) has been set up to improve integrated management at theUnions external borders. In the field of asylum, since 1999 European Union has worked onbuilding a common European Asylum system (CEAS). In particular,minimal harmonisation of national legislation has been reached thanks tothe following Council directives: 1) Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third-country nationals and stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (Qualification Directive); 2) Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (Reception Conditions Directive);Donatella Candura 6
  7. 7. 3) Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status (Asylum Procedures Directive). Besides, the Dublin II Regulation establishes criteria andmechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examiningan asylum application and it prevents abuse of asylum procedures in theform of multiple applications. Basically, the Dublin II Regulation establishes that the Stateresponsible for examining the asylum application is the EU country wherethe applicant has illegally crossed EU borders for the first time. If aMember State deems another Member State responsible for examining anasylum application, it can call on that Member State to take charge of theapplication. The Member State responsible for the asylum application hasto take back the asylum seeker and to complete the examination of his/herapplication. But this mechanism has experienced some problems, related tothe limited reception and absorption capacities and to the lack of adequatestandards of protection in some States (especially States which are at theexternal borders of EU and are more exposed to massive arrivals of asylumseekers). For this reason, EU institutions are examining proposalsamending the Dublin II regulation. In addition, speaking about the European policy on immigration itshould be mentioned the “Framework programme on solidarity andmanagement of migration flows” which establishes financial solidaritymechanisms and which finances projects covering four areas: 1) controls and surveillance of external borders (External Frontiers Fund);Donatella Candura 7
  8. 8. 2) return of Non-EU Member Country nationals residing illegally in the EU (European Return Fund); 3) integration of legally resident Non-EU Member Country nationals (European Integration Fund); 4) asylum (European Fund for Refugees). In my opinion, migration is a challenge for Europe. Indeed, migrationflows can produce economic, cultural and demographic benefits, oncondition that they are managed with order and coordination. From this point of view, efforts toward a common immigration andasylum policy and toward harmonisation of national policies are essential. In conclusion, I would like to point out an issue on which EU isworking through different programmes and initiatives: the promotion of theintegration of immigrants into the host society. In this field, EU has built a Common Agenda on integration: someMinisterial Conferences on integration took place in recent years and somecommon tools were developed. In particular, I can mention: - the European Integration Fund which finances projects for the integration of immigrants in EU countries; - the Handbook on Integration for policy-makers and practitioners, which main objective is to act as a driver for the exchange of information and good practice between stakeholders in all Member States; - the European Web Site on Integration which provides a collection of good practices and a wide variety of tools and useful information related to integration work; - the European Integration Forum which provides an opportunity for civil society organisations to express their views on migrant integration issues.Donatella Candura 8
  9. 9. In addition, EU has developed programmes and initiatives in order tofight against discrimination, like the PROGRESS programme, whichprovides financial support for the implementation of the European Union’sobjectives in the field of employment and social affairs, and the EQUALprogramme, which promotes new ways of combating all forms ofdiscrimination and inequalities in the labour market and which facilitatesthe social and occupational integration of asylum seekers. Furthermore, EUinstitutions are working on “European Modules on Migrant Integration”,with the aim of providing guidelines to Member States which will enablethem to implement integration policies. Actually, I think that integration is the key for a successful migrationpolicy because when migrants fail to integrate into society there may besocio-economic costs, in terms of marginalization, lower employment rates,higher exposure to undeclared or even illegal work, risk of episodes ofracism and xenophobia. In my opinion, integration is a bidirectional process which involves bothEuropean citizens and immigrants: it is important that they learn to knoweach other, to share some fundamental values and to respect differentcultures, so that migration can produce positive effects both for hostingsociety and for immigrants.Donatella Candura 9