EU: New immigration liaison officers network puts more emphasis on EU-level coordination

The Council of the EU and European Parliament recently agreed on a new Regulation establishing a network of European immigration liaison officers, aiming for greater EU-level coordination of the officials deployed to non-EU countries for the purpose of monitoring migration flows, assisting in obtaining documents for people subject to deportation from the EU and passing on relevant information to EU law enforcement authorities.

See: REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the creation of a European network of immigration liaison officers (recast) (PE-CONS 50/19, 24 May 2019, pdf)

The new Regulation repeals 2004 rules (Eur-Lex, link) on the same topic and introduces new measures such as a 'Steering Board' (Article 7) to improve cooperation between liaison officers deployed by different member states.

The Steering Board will be able to:

"adopt biennial work programmes for the activities of networks of immigration liaison officers, agree on tailored ad-hoc actions for immigration liaison officers addressing priorities and emerging needs not already covered by the biennial work programme, allocate resources for agreed activities and be accountable for their execution."

However, the Steering Board should not:

"affect the competence of deploying authorities with regard to tasking their respective immigration liaison officers. When carrying out its tasks, the Steering Board should take into account the diversity of networks of immigration liaison officers as well as the views of the Member States most concerned as regards relations with particular third countries."

The Steering Board will be made up of one representative from every member state; two representatives from the European Commission; and one representative apiece from Frontex, Europol and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

The tasks of immigration liaison officers are set out in Article 3 of the new Regulation and include the following:

"4. Immigration liaison officers shall collect information, for use either at operational level, strategic level, or both... Such information shall cover the following issues in particular:

(a) European integrated border management at the external borders, with a view to managing migration effectively;
(b) migratory flows originating from or transiting through the third country, including where possible and relevant, the composition of migratory flows and migrants’ intended destination;
(c) routes used by migratory flows originating from or transiting through the third country in order to reach the territories of the Member States;
(d) the existence, activities and modi operandi of criminal organisations involved in smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings along the migratory routes;
(e) incidents and events that have the potential to be or to cause new developments with respect to migratory flows;
(f) methods used for counterfeiting or falsifying identity documents and travel documents;
(g) ways and means to assist the authorities in third countries in preventing illegal immigration flows originating from or transiting through their territories;
(h) pre-departure measures available to immigrants in the country of origin or in host third countries that support successful integration upon legal arrival in Member States;
(i) ways and means to facilitate return, readmission and reintegration;
(j) effective access to protection that the third country has put in place, including in favour of vulnerable persons;
(k) existing and possible future legal immigration strategies and channels between the Union and third countries, taking into account skills and labour market needs in Member States, as well as resettlement and other protection tools;
(l) capacity, capability, political strategies, legislation and legal practices of third countries and stakeholders, including, where possible and relevant, regarding reception and detention centres and the conditions therein, as relevant to the issues referred to in points (a) to (k).


6. Immigration liaison officers may render assistance, taking into account their expertise and training, in:

(a) establishing the identity and nationality of third-country nationals and facilitating their return in accordance with Directive 2008/115/EC, as well as assisting their reintegration, where relevant and possible;
(b) confirming the identity of persons in need of international protection for the purposes of facilitating their resettlement in the Union, including by providing them, where possible, with adequate pre-departure information and support;
(c) confirming identity and facilitating implementation of Union and national measures in respect of the admission of legal immigrants;
(d) sharing information obtained in the course of their duties within networks of immigration liaison officers and with competent authorities of the Member States, including law enforcement authorities, in order to prevent and detect illegal immigration as well as combat smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings."

That information will be distributed through a "secure information exchange platform" (Article 9 of the Regulation), which will be set up and maintained by the European Commission.


"No operational law enforcement information of a strictly confidential nature shall be exchanged via the secure web-based information exchange platform."


"...information exchanged through the secure web-based information exchange platform shall not contain personal data or any links through which such personal data is directly or indirectly available."

The European Parliament will have a limited role in overseeing the network and the Steering Board - it will receive copies of the Steering Board's biennial work programme, an overview of that work programme produced by the Chair of the Steering Board, and:

"The European Parliament shall be given access to certain parts of the secure web-based information exchange platform, as determined by the Steering Board in its rules of procedure and in accordance with the applicable Union and national rules and legislation."

See: REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the creation of a European network of immigration liaison officers (recast) (PE-CONS 50/19, 24 May 2019, pdf)


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