European Law Monitor

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Strengthening the comprehensive European migration policy and providing new impetus

The European Commission on the 1st December presents two Communications on migration. The first one reinforces the framework for developing a comprehensive European migration policy and the second covers maritime borders management.

"The Communications issued today [1st December] reinforce the European Union's global approach to migration and propose new and concrete initiatives to better manage migration “, said Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, adding that “We must do so together with neighbouring countries, especially with African States, ensuring we have a united approach to migration and development policies which provide attractive options in people's home countries and reduce the desire for migration. We must fight illegal immigration and trafficking of human beings, not least of all to prevent the terrible exploitation and loss of life which so often results."

The Communication "The global approach to migration one year on: A comprehensive European migration policy", takes stock of the vast amount of work carried out this year with African states and regional organisations. This approach is geographically limited to Africa as it responds to the mandate given to the Commission by the European Council. However it suggests how similar measures could be extended, where relevant, to other regions such as Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

The Communication proposes ways to step up the dialogue and cooperation on migration issues with Africa, covering the whole range of migration issues, from legal and illegal migration to strengthening protection for refugees and better harnessing the links between migration policy and development policy. Other proposals include offering more assistance to African countries in better managing migration, also by establishing Migration Support Teams that would bring in technical expertise to improve operational and administrative capacity. The Communication furthermore proposes the establishment of European Job Mobility Portals that will provide African countries with information about the job opportunities in Europe.

Other actions should facilitate the matching between demand and supply of labour. By fostering professional training, skills development programmes and language courses, potential migrants can enhance their chances of finding legal employment. For this purpose, specific Migration Centres could be established in partner countries, supported by EC funding. Such centres could also play a role in facilitating the management of seasonal workers, the exchanges of students and researchers and other forms of legal movement of people. In an effort to make dialogue with African countries truly comprehensive the Commission proposes the development of Mobility Packages. These would provide the overall framework for managing the various forms of legal movement between the EU and third countries and would bring together the possibilities offered by the Member States and the European Community, while fully respecting the division of competences as provided by the Treaty.

The second communication focuses on the operational work which supports EU migration policy. It addresses maritime borders management as they face the ever increasing pressure of illegal migration. This communication concerns maximising the capacity of FRONTEX. It outlines a number of new tools to improve the European integrated border management. These include a Coastal Patrol Network, a European surveillance system and operational assistance to improve the capacity of Member States to deal with mixed flows of illegal immigrants. Finally the Commission has suggested establishing a pool of experts from Member States' administrations. These experts could be deployed rapidly to help Member States with the initial analysis of asylum seekers by providing, for example, translations or expertise on the asylum seekers' country of origin.