Brussels drawing up resettlement, border control and legal migration targets

Draft plans by EU show intensive agenda to strengthen border control in EU and in military presence in Africa, EU resettlement scheme for refugees, and create “expression of interest system” for migrants seeking EU jobs

Photo: MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
Photo: MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The European Union is proposing a ‘four-pillar’ approach for the management of migration, in a bid to provide legal channels for migrants, stem the flow of irregular migration and counter the industry of human smuggling through a search-and-destroy action mandated by international law.

In a draft plan seen by MaltaToday, the European Commission plans increasing budgets to frontline member states, treble Frontex resources in the Mediterranean, and trigger emergency support mechanisms in a host of ‘immediate action’ to be taken in May.

In the longer term, the EC wants to reduce the propensity for migrants to enter the EU illegally by addressing root causes in third countries through €82 billion in external cooperation  assistance.

It also intends enforcing returns of apprehended irregular migrants to countries of origin, establish a new monitoring and evaluation system for the Common European Asylum System and guidance to improve standards on reception conditions and asylum procedures.

As for legal migration, the EU said it would create an “attractive EU-wide scheme for highly qualified third-country nationals”.

The Blue Card Directive already provides such a scheme, but in its first two years, only 16,000 Blue Cards were issued and 13,000 were issued by a single member state.

But the Commission also wants to look at the possibility of developing, with the member states, an “expression of interest system”.

This would use verifiable criteria to automatically make an initial selection of potential migrants, with employers invited to identify priority applicants from the pool of candidates, and migration taking place after the migrant is offered a job.

This would allow for the creation of an “EU-wide pool” of qualified migrants, accessible to both employers and Member States’ authorities – but with the actual selection and the admission procedure remaining national, based on Member States’ actual labour market needs.

Immediate actions

  • Trebling budget for Frontex joint-operations Triton and Poseidon, amending budget for 2015 but to be presented for 2016 by the end of May. In parallel to this increase in EU funding, assets (ships and aircrafts) are being deployed by several Member States.
  • Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations to systematically identify, capture and destroy vessels used by smugglers, taken under international law.
  • Better pooling and use of information to identify and target smugglers through Europol in joint maritime information operation (JOT MARE) – to create a single entry point for inter-agency cooperation on smuggling.
  • Frontex and Europol will also develop profiles of vessels which could be used by smugglers, following patterns to identify potential vessels and monitor their movements. Europol will identify illegal internet content used by smugglers to attract migrants and refugees, and request its removal.

Responding to high-volumes of arrivals within the EU: Relocation

  • At the end of May, the EU will trigger the emergency response system envisaged under Art.78.3 of the Treaty for a distribution mechanism for persons in clear need of international protection to ensure a fair and balanced participation of all Member States to this common effort.
  • The receiving Member State will be responsible for the examination of the application in accordance with established rules and guarantees. A redistribution key based on criteria such as GDP, size of population, unemployment rate and past numbers of asylum seekers can be found in Annex.
  • Target 20,000 resettlement places for the EU per year by the year 2020, with the EC recommending EU-wide resettlement scheme, backed by an extra €50 million in 2015/2016 to support this scheme. If necessary this will be followed up with a proposal for a binding and mandatory legislative approach beyond 2016. 

Working with third countries to tackle migration upstream

  • Regional Development and Protection Programmes will be set up, starting in North Africa and the Horn of Africa, with €30 million made available in 2015/2016.
  • Pilot multi-purpose centre will be set up in Niger by the end of the year, with IOM, UNHCR and Niger authorities offering “information, local protection and resettlement opportunities for those in need” and to provide “a realistic picture of the likely success of migrants’ journeys.”
  • Ongoing Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions already deployed in countries like Niger and Mali will now also patrol borders.
  • Dedicated summit will be organised in Malta in the autumn with key partners, including  the African Union.

Using the EU’s tools to help frontline Member States

  • Commission will set up new ‘Hotspot’ approach, where the European Asylum Support Office, Frontex and Europol will work on the ground with frontline Member States to swiftly identify, register and fingerprint incoming migrants.
  • Commission will mobilise an additional €60 million in emergency funding, including to support the reception and healthcare system of Member States under particular pressure.

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