16 May 2018
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Updated 21.5.18 to include the evaluation on immigration liaison officers and relevant information.
The European Commission has proposed introducing EU-level coordination of the existing network of immigration liaison officers (ILOs), made up of some 500 national officials who work in non-EU countries to gather information and intelligence with the aim of "preventing and combating of illegal immigration, facilitating the return of illegal immigrants and managing legal migration."
See: Proposal for a Regulation on the creation of a European network of immigration liaison officers (COM(2018) 303 final, pdf) and: Annexes (correlation tables and details of legislation to be repealed, pdf); see also: Evaluation of the Council Regulation (EC) 377/2004 on the creation of an immigration liaison officers network (SWD(2018) 197 final, pdf)
The proposal was announced alongside the latest progress report on the European Agenda on Migration and its main aims are the following (emphasis added):
A job advert posted by the British High Commission in Lagos, Nigeria, illustrates the work of ILOs:
The Commission's own evaluation also expands upon the changing roles of one particular type of immigration liaison officer, the airport liaison officer (ALO):
"The tasks of typical ALOs evolved from checking documents at the entrance of the aircraft of their national airline carrier (as ‘first line of defence’ of the European borders) to assisting (advising) with check-in procedures at the departure area of the airport (beyond the national airline carrier), providing training and other forms of support and advice to various host country authorities in and outside the airports, and developing intelligence relating to irregular migration that forms the basis of criminal investigations and prosecutions."
The evaluation also highlights some numbers:
"While not all Member States presently deploy ILOs, the biggest number of national ILO are deployed by Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Netherland (126, 111, 59, 47, 25 respectively)."
The Commission's explanatory memorandum states (emphasis added):
"the external evaluation of the current ILO Regulation, completed in August 2017, highlighted that the Regulation [agreed in 2011]has had a limited and mostly indirect impact on the establishment of formal networks among ILOs deployed to the same location, on enhancing the collection and sharing of information and on improving coordination of the EU position and activities vis-à-vis third countries.
The evaluation concluded that immigration liaison officers and their networks remain highly relevant in the current global migration context and retain coherence with existing and planned European polices aimed at tackling irregular migration in particular, but it also identified shortcomings. It identified that the limitations of the current ILO Regulation are due to insufficient coordination and engagement at the EU level.
The objective of the revision of the ILO Regulation is to enhance coordination and to optimise utilisation of immigration liaison officers, including the new European liaison officers deployed to third countries to enable them to respond more effectively to EU priorities in the field of migration."
See: Proposal for a Regulation on the creation of a European network of immigration liaison officers (COM(2018) 303 final, pdf) and: Annexes (correlation tables and details of legislation to be repealed, pdf)
See also: Evaluation of the Council Regulation (EC) 377/2004 on the creation of an immigration liaison officers network (SWD(2018) 197 final, pdf)
And: Commission: latest progress report on the European Agenda on Migration demands "vigilance and coordination across the board"
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