Statewatch News online: Seville Conclusions on asylum & immigration

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EU Presidency Conclusions at the Seville European Council 21/22 June

Despite reports in the mainstream media the EU committed itself to target third world countries who do not cooperate with repatriation.

In future all EU agreements with non-EU states are to: "include a clause on joint management of migration flows and on compulsory readmission in the event of illegal immigration" (para.33). This to include those who are "unlawfully present" in the EU, eg: own nationals of the third country and people who may have passed through the third country in transit. "In the event" that there is an: "unjustified lack of cooperation" the EU will apply direct pressure through agreements on trade, aid and assistance coupled with political and diplomatic sanctions (emphasis added).

Documents (pdf) considered in Seville:

1. Advances made in combating illegal immigration, document: 10009/02
2. Plan for the management of the external borders of the EU agreed by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 13 June 2002: 10019/02
3. Cooperation with third countries of origin and transit to jointly combat illegal immigration: 9917/3/02

Other background documents:

1. Comprehensive Action Plan to combat illegal immigration and trafficking of human beings in the EU. Adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 28 February without debate. No drafts of the measure were made public until after its adoption: 6621/1/02

2. Commission report on the relationship between safeguarding internal security and complying with international protection obligations and instruments: Statewatch report and documentation (COM(2001) 743, 5.12.01): Report

3. Commission Green Paper (COM(2002) 175 on expulsion, 10.4.02): Document

Background developments:

1. "Fortress Europe - Stage 2": EU Border Police proposed: Report

2, EU plans to extend the Schengen Information System (SIS) to:

i) create EU database to target "suspected" protestors and bar them from entering a country where a protest is planned;
ii) create EU database of all "foreigners" to remove third country nationals who have not left within the "prescribed time frame": Special Statewatch report

3. see also: Statewatch's Observatory on EU asylum and immigration policies

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"We should all be ashamed of what has been agreed in our names by the EU Prime Ministers and Ministers in Seville. The swathe of measures being put in place means the EU is heading for a situation where people fleeing poverty and persecution are to be expelled, repatriated, deported, back to where they have come from regardless of the circumstances.

The rationale of EU governments is that they must respond to the demands of the far-right - the racists and the fascists - by what they call "triangulation", that is to say by adopting far-right policies to try and exclude them from national parliaments. Such a policy of appeasement has an appalling historical precedent"

Extract from the Presidency Conclusions agrreed in Seville:


26. The European Council is determined to speed up the implementation of all aspects of the programme adopted in Tampere for the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice in the European Union. The European Council points here to the need to develop a European Union common policy on the separate, but closely related, issues of asylum and immigration.

27. It is crucial for the European Union and its Member States that migration flows should be managed in accordance with the law, in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit of such flows. The European Council therefore welcomes the results achieved over the last six months, in particular the comprehensive plan to combat illegal immigration, the plan for the management of external borders and the Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers in Member States, and calls on forthcoming Presidencies to continue to give migration issues a special place in their work schedules.

28. Measures taken in the short and medium term for the joint management of migration flows must strike a fair balance between, on the one hand, an integration policy for lawfully resident immigrants and an asylum policy complying with international conventions, principally the 1951 Geneva Convention, and, on the other, resolute action to combat illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings.

29. The Union’s action in this area should be based on the following principles:

-· the legitimate aspiration to a better life has to be reconcilable with the reception capacity of the Union and its Member States and immigration must pass through the legal channels provided for it; the integration of immigrants lawfully present in the Union entails both rights and obligations in relation to the fundamental rights recognised within the Union; combating racism and xenophobia is of essential importance here;

-· in accordance with the 1951 Geneva Convention, it is important to afford refugees swift, effective protection, while making arrangements to prevent abuse of the system and ensuring that those whose asylum applications have been rejected are returned to their countries of origin more quickly.

Measures to combat illegal immigration

30. In the comprehensive plan to combat illegal immigration, the European Union has equipped itself with an effective means of bringing about proper management of migration flows and combating illegal immigration. The
European Council calls on the Council and the Commission, within their respective spheres of responsibility, to attach top priority to the following measures contained in the plan:

-· review, before the end of the year, of the list of third countries whose nationals require visas or are exempt from that requirement;

-· introduction, as soon as possible, of a common identification system for visa data, in the light of a feasibility study to be submitted in March 2003 and on the basis of guidelines from the Council; a preliminary report will be presented before the end of 2002;

-· speeding up of the conclusion of readmission agreements currently being negotiated and approval of new briefs for the negotiation of readmission agreements with countries already identified by the Council;

-· as regards expulsion and repatriation policies, adoption by the end of the year, of the components of a repatriation programme based on the Commission Green Paper; those components should include the best possible facilities for early return to Afghanistan;

-· formal adoption, at the next Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, of the Framework Decision on combating trafficking in human beings, the Framework Decision on the strengthening of the penal framework to prevent the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence and the Directive defining the facilitation of
irregular entry, transit and residence.

Gradual introduction of coordinated, integrated management of external borders

31. The European Council welcomes the various recent initiatives in this area and in particular the Commission communication entitled "Towards integrated management of the external borders of the Member States of the European Union", the feasibility study carried out under Italy’s leadership concerning the establishment of a European border police force, taking account of the intention expressed by the Commission to continue examining the advisability and feasibility of such a police force, and the study concerning police and border security, carried out by three Member States under the OISIN cooperation programme.

32. The European Council applauds the recent approval of the plan for the management of the external borders of the Member States, based on those three initiatives, which should, among other aims, help bring greater control of migration flows. It urges the introduction without delay, within the framework of the Council, of the common unit for external border practitioners, composed of Member States’ heads of border control, to coordinate the
measures contained in the plan.

It also requests the Council, the Commission and the Member States, each within its respective sphere of responsibility, to implement the following:

- before the end of 2002:

-· joint operations at external borders;

-· immediate initiation of pilot projects open to all interested Member States;

-· creation of a network of Member States' immigration liaison officers;

– before June 2003:

-· preparation of a common risk analysis model, in order to achieve common integrated risk assessment;

-· establishment of a common core curriculum for border guard training and consolidation of European provisions concerning borders;

-· a study by the Commission concerning burden-sharing between Member States and the Union for the management of external borders.

Integration of immigration policy into the Union’s relations with third countries

33. The European Council considers that combating illegal immigration requires a greater effort by the European Union and a targeted approach to the problem, with the use of all appropriate instruments in the context of the European Union's external relations. To that end, in accordance with the Tampere European Council conclusions, an integrated, comprehensive and balanced approach to tackle the root causes of illegal immigration must remain the European Union's constant long-term objective. With this in mind, the European Council points out that closer economic cooperation, trade expansion, development assistance and conflict prevention are all means of promoting economic prosperity in the countries concerned and thereby reducing the underlying causes of migration flows. The European Council urges that any future cooperation, association or equivalent agreement which the European Union or the European Community concludes with any country should include a clause on joint management of migration flows and on compulsory readmission in the event of illegal immigration.

34. The European Council highlights the importance of ensuring the cooperation of countries of origin and transit in joint management and in border control as well as on readmission. Such readmission by third countries should include that of their own nationals unlawfully present in a Member State and, under the same conditions, that of other countries’ nationals who can be shown to have passed through the country in question. Cooperation should bring results in the short and medium term. The Union is prepared to provide the necessary technical and
financial assistance for the purpose, in which case the European Community will have to be allocated the appropriate resources, within the limits of the financial perspective.

35. The European Council considers it necessary to carry out a systematic assessment of relations with third countries which do not cooperate in combating illegal immigration. That assessment will be taken into account in relations between the European Union and its Member States and the countries concerned, in all relevant areas. Inadequate cooperation by a country could hamper the establishment of closer relations between that country and the Union.

36. After full use has been made of existing Community mechanisms without success, the Council may unanimously find that a third country has shown an unjustified lack of cooperation in joint management of migration flows. In that event the Council may, in accordance with the rules laid down in the treaties, adopt measures or positions under the Common Foreign and Security Policy and other European Union policies, while honouring the Union’s contractual commitments and not jeopardising development cooperation objectives.

Speeding up of current legislative work on the framing of a common policy on asylum and immigration

37. In parallel with closer cooperation in combating illegal immigration, there is a need to press ahead with examination of proposals under discussion. The European Council urges the Council to adopt:

· by December 2002, the Dublin II Regulation;

· by June 2003, the minimum standards for qualification and status as refugees and the provisions on family reunification and the status of long-term permanent residents;

· by the end of 2003, the common standards for asylum procedures.

38. The Commission will submit a report to the Council in late October 2002 on the effectiveness of financial resources available at Community level for repatriation of immigrants and rejected asylum seekers, for management of external borders and for asylum and migration projects in third countries.

39. The European Council asks the Council, in cooperation with the Commission, to submit for the European Council meeting in June 2003 a report on the practical implementation of the guidelines set out in this section.

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