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Towards a comprehensive European migration policy


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - The global approach to migration one year on: towards a comprehensive European migration policy [COM(2006) 735 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


2006 was a year of agenda-setting with Africa. A ministerial conference on migration and development was held in Rabat last July, bringing together some 60 countries along West and Central African migration routes. A conference was also held in Libya in November to formulate for the first time a joint approach to migration between the EU and the whole of Africa.

In addition to these conferences, the issue of migration is also being addressed as part of:

  • European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)
  • the Euromed Forum;
  • the high-level meetings with the African Union and the regional organisations.

At the end of 2006, FRONTEX launched and coordinated several joint maritime operations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions, completed risk analyses on Africa and presented feasibility studies on establishing a Mediterranean coastal patrols network and a surveillance system covering the whole southern maritime border of the EU and the Mediterranean Sea. Regional networks of immigration liaison officers (ILOs) are being set up along key migration routes through Africa. The Commission has issued a proposal for the establishment of rapid border intervention teams and has carried out an analysis of international maritime law.

Reinforcing coherence: a comprehensive European migration policy

With regard to intensifying dialogue and cooperation with the African countries of origin and transit, the Commission states that on the basis of the work carried out on migratory routes, the EU will foster more specific cooperation with various regions in Africa. Cooperation platforms will bring together African countries, EU Member States and international organisations in an effort to manage migration more effectively in the interests of all. This common framework could then lead to the formulation of regional agreements with interested African countries.

In addition, in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and EUROMED, a ministerial conference on migration will be convened in the second half of 2007.

The Commission states that "Article 13 missions", in which key African countries such as Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria will take part, will be set up in 2007. These missions, three of which took place in 2006, are undertaken by the Commission on the basis of Article 13 of the Cotonou Agreement with the participation of the Presidency embassies in the countries concerned and interested Member States. A joint EU-ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) working group on migration is also to meet for the first time in 2007.

With regard to the migration and development agenda, the Commission will reserve an amount of 40 million for the first phase of this initiative (9th EDF resources), to be complemented by Member States' contributions. The geographical scope of the initiative, aimed at seriously addressing the lack of decent jobs in Africa, will be sub-Saharan Africa, but actions may focus on specific countries or regions and - in its first phase - notably on West Africa. Member States will be invited to join the Commission in the programming of these actions.

The EU must continue to help the African states to reinforce their capacity to manage migration and asylum. Important initiatives are being taken in ENP countries, in particular with regard to border management and institutional support in order to improve the reception of migrants as well as the protection of their rights. Furthermore, the Commission has proposed creating migration profiles for each interested country. These profiles should be established for all relevant partner countries in the medium term. The Commission has also suggested establishing migration support teams (MISTs) composed of experts from EU Member States which could provide the necessary assistance to African states who so request.

The Commission intends to:

  • support initiatives stimulating the establishment of a pan-African network of migration 'observatories' and/or migration research institutes;
  • propose the implementation of twinning measures using EC funding to assist African countries in developing their migration and asylum policies;
  • suggest designating a contact person for migration issues in each of its delegations (and in Member State missions) in African countries.

As regards legal immigration, the Commission suggests:

  • setting up specific migration centres in partner countries, supported by EC funding, in order to facilitate management of seasonal workers, exchanges of students and researchers and other forms of legal movement of people;
  • supporting activities such as reinforcing the third-country administrative services responsible for managing labour migration, reinforcing the capacity of the national employment services in third countries and developing intermediation establishments as well as the implementation of pre-immigration plans in countries of origin;
  • once certain conditions have been met, such as cooperation on illegal migration and the establishment of agreements for readmission, setting up mobility packages which would enable their citizens to have better access to the EU.

The Commission also suggests similar initiatives to address potential skills shortages and brain drain in certain sectors, as well as measures to prevent the adverse effects on the countries of origin of excessive emigration of skilled workers.

With regard to integration and intercultural dialogue, the Commission will establish instruments enabling more involvement by the interested parties, including the migrants themselves, thereby encouraging an effective integration strategy. This will require in particular:

  • establishing an integration platform where relevant partners can exchange views on a regular basis;
  • consolidating the role played by local authorities building on the success of the Rotterdam conference of 9-10 October;
  • creating an integration website and new editions of the integration handbook and the annual report on migration and integration.

In 2007 the high-level advisory group on the social integration of ethnic minorities is to present practical recommendations for further developing the existing polices. The Commission also recommends adopting other measures to ensure that migrants receive civic education based on fundamental European values and learn the language of their host country. In addition, the EU must continue to support projects in the field of intercultural education, education of immigrants and inclusion of disadvantaged youth via relevant programmes.

With regard to the fight against illegal migration and trafficking in human beings:

  • new legislation on penalties against employers of undeclared labour will be proposed in spring 2007;
  • EUROPOL will help to fight illegal immigration and people trafficking;
  • FRONTEX, within the framework of European external relations policy, should establish technical working arrangements for joint operations with relevant third countries;
  • ILO networks will be reinforced, with the aim of having at least one liaison officer in each key African country of origin and transit;

Member States must be supported in designing and implementing voluntary return programmes and enforced return plans, including joint flights for removal; in this context, the Commission considers that it is equally important that the proposed Directive establishing common standards for Member States' return procedures is adopted as soon as possible;

Negotiations on a re-admission agreement between the European Community and third countries should continue.

With regard to asylum and the protection of refugees, the Commission suggests implementing regional protection programmes, as well as activities in other areas giving support to asylum-seekers and persons in need of international protection, such as Mauritania and southern Africa. Funds will also be made available to finance a UNHCR-run project for protection activities in all the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries - Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Financial support for the comprehensive European migration policy

The Commission confirms its intention of intensifying its financial assistance in areas concerning or related to migration in respect of its relations with third countries, including by an allocation of up to 3% of the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI).

Access to these 10th EDF incentive resources will depend on the outcome of a dialogue between the Commission and the partner country on the past performance and future commitments in the area of governance, including on migration.

The new thematic programme on migration and asylum has been elaborated on the basis of experience gained with the Aeneas programme and builds on lessons learned.

With regard to solidarity between Member States, the bulk of the 4.02 billion package allocated by the budgetary authority for the period 2007-2013 to the framework programme "Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows" will go directly to the Member States under shared management arrangements.

The Commission recommends that Member States take a committed strategic long-term approach to the use of these resources. While the main purpose of the framework programme is to reinforce the implementation of the internal dimension of the Community policies, many of the actions are likely to favour the achievement of the objectives set out in this Communication.

The Commission is also committed to exploring all possibilities of creating a leverage effect through these Funds by making financial agreements with other stakeholders, such as the European Investment Bank.


In December 2005, the European Council adopted a global approach to migration. This global approach, which focuses on action priorities in Africa and the Mediterranean, formulates coherent migration policies and action, addressing a wide range of migration issues and bringing together the various relevant policy areas: external relations, development, employment, and justice, freedom and security.

This Communication has two aims: firstly, it responds to the European Council's invitation to the Commission to report back on progress made in implementing the first phase of the global approach and the priority actions focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean by the end of 2006. Secondly, it proposes ways to make the European Union's approach truly comprehensive.

While this Communication focuses on Africa and the Mediterranean region, the Commission believes that consideration should be given to applying the approach to other regions, in particular those on the eastern and south-eastern external borders of the EU.

Last updated: 07.01.2007
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