The Estonian Presidency includes the work on migration under their second priority, „Safe and Secure Europe“, together with the fight against terrorism and organised crime and an increase in defence expenditure. The decision to list mmigration under this priority gives already a sense of the approach that the Estonian goverment will adopt towards the issue of migration in Europe: rather than an opportunity for growth and inclusion, migration seems tob e connected to challenges related to stabillity and crime. The Estonian Presidency seems to be also inclined to explore IT solutions and the introduction of databases to support the migration within the Schengen Area, which is particularly interesting if we consider that there are ongoing negotiations on the rules related to Eurodac and the Schengen Information System.
The files on which the Estonian Presidency will focus are the following:
- Legal migration framework, namely the Entry and Residency of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (2016/0176 COD)
- Asylum, which includes the Dublin system (2016/0133 COD), the Asylum Agency (2016/0131 COD), Reception Conditions (2016/0222 COD), Asylum Qualification (2016/0223 COD), Asylum Procedure (2016/0224 COD) and New Resettlement Framework (2016/0225 COD)
- Procedure for returning migrants (2016/0407 COD)
[ It is to be noted that these legislative proposals already feature as priority files in the Joint Declaration 2017, with the exception of the return of illegal migrants. During the Maltese Presidency, the proposal on the Entry/Exit System (both Regulation and Directive), as well as the Asylum Agency have already greatly progressed. ]
- External investment plan/European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) (2016/0281 COD)
- External investment package, composed of EIB external lending and the Guarantee fund for external actions (2016/0275 COD & 2016/0274 COD)
It is interesting to note that the recent Human Development Report warned Estonian authorities on the fact that Estonia will not be able to maintain its population size without immigration. The report found that if high rates of emigration continue and birth rates remain low, Estonia’s population could shrink to below 800,000 by the end of the 21st century. Therefore, Estonia indeed needs a proactive policy on how to solve the issues of population decline, migration and integration. The report titled “Estonia in an Era of Migration” and was edited by Tiit Tammaru, professor of urban and population geography and director of the Center for Migration and Urban Research at the Department of Geography of the University of Tartu.