As announced by Juncker when presenting his programme after his election as President of the European Commission, managing migration better is a high priority for the next years. In practice this has been translated into the decision to create a comprehensive European Agenda on Migration. The agenda will be launched in May and the work started on the 4th of March, with a debate in the College of Commissioners.
Four main areas (pillars) have been identified and will be explored in detail during the upcoming weeks:
- A strong Common European Asylum System that guarantees assistance to those in need of protection but limit the abuses;
- A new policy on legal migration to define the framework under which people with different skills that we need can come to Europe;
- A robust fight against irregular migration that includes a clear plan to fight smuggling and trafficking of migrants and an effective return policy;
- Borders that protect a Europe that remains open.
Concerning the first point, the Commission will focus on the aim of eliminating “existing divergences in national asylum policy practices” and on the need to make progress into relocation and resettlement efforts. On this last issue, we need to remember that the outcomes of the dialogue with Member States on these topics has given so far very poor results in terms of commitment, notwithstanding the budget allocated by the Commission under several funds and the repeated calls to show solidarity. It will be therefore interesting to understand how the Commission will try to change the current situation.
Under the second point, the Commission planned the launch of the review of the EU Blue Card Directive, while in terms of combating irregular migration it announced the development of concrete tools targeting priority countries and routes.
The funding future of Frontex will be a priority under the last pillar, with discussions being presented on the creation of a European System of Border Guards (ESBG). This system is an idea that has been on the table for a while already, and was analyzed through a feasibility study finalized in June 2014 by Unisys. The results led to a three governance models for the management of external borders, that have been recently presented by the Commission to the Parliament as possible subsequent steps:
1. Optimal use of existing instruments: this is a status-quo model, optimising the use of what already exists, in combination with the full use of FRONTEX’s mandate. But responsibilities for checking the external borders would remain upon Member states and FRONTEX would have a supportive role.
2. Shared responsibility: this refers to the delegation of responsibility to the EU level for the hot spot operations, parts of the European borders where an important pressure occurs. European border corps should act on those hot spots. However, the day-to-day management should remain within the competence of Schengen States. The national border guards would be continuing with their normal jobs.
3. Full integration at EU level: the mechanisms for the hot spot control and surveillance would be extended towards permanent control at the EU structure. There would be no more national border guards, as they would be part of an EU body. This model describes the harmonized way of the ESBG.
We will monitor the evolution of this Agenda and we will inform you on the results, once a decision will be adopted.