http://www.europa.eu.int/

Immigration and Asylum - A community responsibility


            The policy on asylum, the free movement of persons, visa
policy,
rules governing the crossing of the EU's external borders, immigration
policy and the rights of nationals of third countries have  become a
full
Community responsibility with the entry into force of the Treaty of
Amsterdam on 1 May 1999.

            Specific objectives

            Articles 61, 62 and 63 of the Treaty establishing the
European
Community, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, define the
objectives to
be achieved by the Union in the following fields:

                a.. removal of any controls on persons - citizens of
the
European Union or nationals of third countries - when they cross
internal
borders from any one EU member state to another,

                b.. crossing of the external borders of member states
 i.e.
coming into the EU - (standards and methods for controls on persons,
rules
concerning visas),

                c.. the conditions under which the nationals of third
countries can circulate freely within the EU for a maximum period of
three
months,

                d.. requests for asylum (criteria and mechanisms for
determining which member state is responsible for considering an
application
for asylum, minimum standards on the reception of asylum seekers,
minimum
standards for the conditions to be fulfilled to obtain refugee status
and
for the procedures for granting or withdrawing refugee status),

                e.. refugees and displaced persons from third
countries
(minimum standards for giving temporary protection, and ensuring a
balance
between the efforts made by the Member States in receiving and bearing
the
consequences of receiving refugees and displaced persons),

                f.. measures against illegal immigration of nationals
of
third countries, including repatriation of such persons illegally
resident
in a Member State

                g.. immigration measures concerning conditions of
entry and
stay of third country nationals and procedures on the issuing of long
term
visas, including for family reunification purposes

                h.. definition of rights and conditions under which
third
country nationals legally resident in a Member State may reside in
another
Member State
                The Treaty establishes that all these measures shall
be
adopted within five years of the entry into force of the Treaty, with
the
exception of measures listed under the last two bulletpoints above.

                The Council shall act unanimously on proposals from
the
Commission or on the initiative of a Member State. There is an
obligation to
consult the European Parliament. After 1 May 2004 the Commission will
have
an exclusive right of initiative. The importance of this change is
twofold:
legally binding texts would be adopted which will bind those Member
States
taking part in the implementation of Title IV;  democratic as well as
jurisdictional control would be greatly improved.

                Title IV of the EC Treaty is not applicable to the
United
Kingdom and Ireland unless the two countries decide otherwise in
accordance
with the procedure laid down in the Protocol on the position of the
United
Kingdom and Ireland annexed to the Treaties. Title IV of the EC Treaty
is
not applicable to Denmark by virtue of the Protocol on the position of
Denmark annexed to the Treaties.

            An ambitious political framework

                a.. A special meeting of the European Council held at
Tampere, Finland, in October 1999, was dedicated to the establishment
of an
Area of Freedom, Security and Justice and elaborated the political
guidelines for the next years, including in the field of asylum and
immigration.


                b.. The European Council reaffirmed the importance
that the
Union and Member States attach to absolute respect of the right to
seek
asylum and agreed to work towards establishing a Common European
Asylum
System, based on the full and inclusive application of the Geneva
Convention
in order to maintain the principle of "non-refoulement". This Common
System
should, in a first stage, include a workable mechanism to determine
which
Member State is responsible for considering an asylum application,
common
standards as regards procedures and reception conditions, an
approximation
of rules on eligibility to refugee status and measures relating to
subsidiary forms of protection. The Common System should eventually
comprise
a common asylum procedure and a uniform status, valid throughout the
Union,
for persons who are granted asylum. The question of temporary
protection of
displaced persons should be addressed in a spirit of solidarity
between
Member States.


                c.. In Tampere, it was recognised that the European
Union
needs a comprehensive approach to migration addressing political,
human
rights and development issues in countries and regions of origin and
transit. Partnership with third countries concerned will also be a key
element for the success of such a policy, with a view to promoting
co-development. The European Council acknowledges the need for
approximation
of national legislation on the conditions for admission and residence
of
third country nationals, based on a shared assessment of the economic
and
demographic developments within the Union, as well as the situation in
the
countries of origin.


                d.. The Conclusions of the Extraordinary Council of
Tampere
stress also the need for the European Union to ensure fair treatment
of
third country nationals who are legally resident in the Member States.
The
Heads of State and Governments also underlined that a more vigorous
integration policy is needed that should aim at granting third country
natio
nals who are legally resident rights and obligations comparable to
those of
EU citizens.


                e.. The European Council stressed the need for more
efficient management of migration flows at all stages. It called for
the
development, in close co-operation with countries of origin and
transit, of
information campaigns on the actual possibilities for legal
immigration, and
for the prevention of all forms of trafficking in human beings. It
called
for assistance to countries of origin and transit to be developed in
order
to promote voluntary return as well as to help the authorities of
those
countries to strengthen their ability to combat effectively
trafficking in
human beings and to cope with their readmission obligations towards
the
Union and the Member States.



            Initiatives already on the table

            Since the ratification of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the
Commission has already submitted several proposals, which are
currently
under discussion in the Council and the European Parliament:

                a.. a Directive on minimum standards for granting
temporary
protection in case of mass influx of displaced persons (COM(2000)303)
)

                b.. a proposal for a Council Directive on the right to
family reunification (COM(1999)638 final of 1.12.99( ) ; amended
proposal:
COM(2000) 624 final of 10.10.2000 (   ).

                c.. readmission agreements with third countries

                d.. a Directive on minimum standards on procedures in
Member
States for granting and withdrawing refugee status (COM(2000)578) (
).

                e.. Communication from the Commission to the Council
and the
European Parliament: "Towards a common asylum procedure and a uniform
status, valid throughout the Union, for persons granted asylum"
(COM(2000)755 Final of 22.11.2000 ( fichiers PDF (  ).

                f.. Communication from the Commission to the Council
and the
European Parliament on a Community immigration policy (COM(2000)757
Final of
22.11.2000  (fichiers PDF  ).
            Work programme

                a.. Proposal for a directive on minimum standards for
conditions for the reception of asylum-seekers (Spring 2001),
                b.. Proposal for a Community instrument on
determination of
the State responsible for the examination of a request for asylum -
follow-up to the Dublin Convention (Spring 2001)
                c.. Proposal for a directive on the conditions of
admission
and stay of third country nationals for the purposes of study (2nd
Semester
2001),
                d.. Proposal for a directive on conditions of
admission and
stay of third country nationals for the purpose of paid employment or
self-employed activities (1st Semester 2001)
                e.. Proposal for a directive on the conditions of
admission
and stay of third country nationals for the purpose of unpaid
activities
(2nd Semester 2001).
                f.. Proposals on rules on the recognition and content
of
refugee status and on measures on subsidiary forms of protection
offering an
appropriate status (2nd Semester 2001)
                g.. Proposal for a Council Decision adopting an action
programme for administrative co-operation in the fields of visas,
asylum,
immigration and other policies related to free movement of persons
(2nd
Semester 2001)
            European Fund for Refugees

            On 28 September 2000 Council Decision 2000/596/EC  ( ) was
adopted establishing a European Refugee Fund. The Fund will support
and
encourage the efforts made by the Member States in receiving and
bearing the
consequences of receiving refugees and displaced persons.

            More information in programmes co-financed page.

            Eurodac

            On 11 December 2000 Member States adopted Council
Regulation EC
No 2725/2000 concerning the establishment of Eurodac for the
comparison of
fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention
(OJ
11.12.2000 L 316) (). The purpose of Eurodac is to establish a system
for
the comparison of fingerprints of asylum applicants and certain other
categories of third country nationals in order to help to determine
which is
the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application
lodged in a
Member State of the EU (Dublin Convention).

            Norway and Iceland agreement

            In March 2001 Member States adopted a Council decision
concerning the conclusion of an agreement between the European
Community and
the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway concerning the
criteria
and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a
request for asylum lodged in a Member State or Iceland or Norway. [COM
(2001) 55 final]  () . This Agreement with Norway and Iceland
basically
reproduces the obligations and rights contained in the Dublin
Convention and
the EURODAC regulation.

            ODYSSEUS programme

            On a proposal from the Commission ODYSSEUS,  ()

            a training, trade and co-operation programme, was launched
for
the period 1998 - 2002. However, as the amount allocated for the
programme
will be used up in 2001, Commission services are therefore reflecting
on a
new programme and necessary legal instruments that could replace this
one.
            The Commission also financed pilot projects and
preparatory
activities (initiated in 1997, 1998 and 1999) for the reception and
voluntary repatriation of refugees.

            External Dimension

            EU policy in the areas of asylum and migration also
includes an
important external dimension. The European Union needs a comprehensive
approach to migration addressing political, human rights and
development
issues in countries and regions of origin and transit. This requires
combating poverty, improving living conditions and job opportunities,
preventing conflicts, consolidating democratic states and ensuring
respect
for human rights. Partnership with third countries concerned is a key
element for the success of such a policy. Specific action plans have
been
agreed for countries such as Morocco, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the
neighbouring region, Somalia, Iraq and Albania and the neighbouring
region.
Together with the Council and Member States, the Commission will play
an
active role in the implementation of these plans. At the same time the
Commission is intensifying contacts with other countries, such as the
ACP
and Mediterranean countries and the countries in South Eastern Europe,
to
develop a migration policy in partnership.

            Internet Servers financed by the Commission

                a.. university network for legal studies on
immigration and
asylum in Europe, Odysseus programme
                b.. information network on European migration,
Odysseus
programme ,
                c.. network for the integration of refugees,
                d.. European Fund for Refugees: projects financed in
1998
and 1999 from a list of joint actions under the Maastricht Treaty for
asylum
applicants, displaced persons and refugees (reception and voluntary
repatriation)