AN OPEN METHOD OF CO-ORDINATION FOR THE
COMMUNITY IMMIGRATION POLICY
Commission Communication on an open method of co-ordination for the Community immigration policy.
||11 July 2001|
|Forwarded to the Council:
||16 July 2001|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||12 September 2001
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 10 October 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
||Legally and politically important
||Not cleared; further information requested
3.1 This Communication follows on from the
Commission Communication on a Community Immigration Policy,
which was cleared following a debate in European Standing Committee
B in April. That Communication proposed a procedure for a gradual
co-ordination of immigration policy at Community level.
3.2 The document proposes employing the
"open method of co-ordination" (already used in relation
to the Employment Strategy and the EU Social Policy Agenda) to
support the development of the Community immigration policy. This
method involves an annual cycle of adoption of guidelines by the
Council, the development of National Action Plans by Member States,
and the drafting of a synthesis report evaluating the Plans against
the guidelines. The Communication explains that the open co-ordination
method "will support and complement the Community legislation
called for in the Treaty and will provide a framework for reviewing
with the Member States the implementation of these legal instruments."
3.3 The guidelines will initially be established
in the following areas: management of migration flows; admission
of economic migrants; partnership with third countries and the
integration of third-country nationals. The Commission puts forward
six guidelines, the first three of which are related to the management
of migration flows:
" developing a comprehensive and
co-ordinated approach to migration management at national level;
improving information available on legal
possibilities for admission to the EU and on the consequences
of using illegal channels;
reinforcing the fight against illegal
immigration, smuggling and trafficking...;
establishing a coherent and transparent
policy and procedures for opening the labour market to third country
nationals within the framework of the European employment strategy;
integrating migration issues into relations
with third countries, and, in particular, with countries of origin;
ensuring the development of integration
policies for third-country nationals residing legally on the territories
of the Member States."
3.4 The proposal is for National Action
Plans to fall into two parts: an overview of the previous year's
performance, and proposals for implementing the guidelines in
the following year. Member States would fix their own national
objectives, within a framework of overall European targets. The
synthesis report would include recommendations for the future
development of the Community Development Policy, including revisions
to the guidelines. Preparation of the report would be co-ordinated
with the similar reports on employment and social inclusion. The
Communication proposes that this open co-ordination method should
be introduced for an initial period of six years, with the Guidelines
being approved "as soon as possible in 2002".
The Government's view
3.5 In her Explanatory Memorandum, the Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Angela Eagle) comments
fully on the proposal, saying:
"The Government welcomes this communication
as the next step in response to the call for a common EU immigration
policy, as envisaged both in Article 63 TEC and at the special
European Council at Tampere. The Government believes that consultation,
co-operation and increased co-ordination of policies in the fields
of both legal and illegal immigration are key to the successful
management of a migration policy, here and elsewhere in Europe.
The proposal for an open method of co-ordination should facilitate
this process at a European level.
"Nevertheless, the Government's approach to
any further measures for developing an open method of co-ordination
will be influenced by its Protocols secured at Amsterdam.
"At the same time the Government aims to ensure,
where appropriate, that the United Kingdom's immigration policies
are broadly in line with those of other Member States and considers
that an open method of co-ordination is an appropriate approach
to achieving this. However, the Government would find it difficult
to participate in measures that impinged on the right of Member
States to determine their own policy where this was in the national
interest. It is important that the principle of subsidiarity be
maintained and that any emerging Community Immigration Policy
is focussed on those areas which are best met by a co-ordinated
approach at a European level.
"The guidelines, as proposed within the Communication
lay out a policy framework that broadly mirrors much of the Government's
current thinking. Indeed, the Government is already active at
a local, national, European and international level in taking
forward policy to achieve many of these objectives.
"The Government supports the view that migration
should be managed through a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach
at a national level. It considers it important to improve the
provision of information on legal possibilities for admission
to Member States, as well as the consequences of using illegal
routes, in order that individuals coming to Member States can
make informed decisions on the basis of accurate information.
The UK is also determined to continue the fight against illegal
immigration, smuggling and trafficking, both through national
and EU-wide measures.
"On the admission of economic migrants, the
Government believes that the development of a Community Immigration
Policy is complementary to but distinct from the Employment Strategy.
It does not consider that any potential conflict between these
two strategies requires special mechanisms at an EU level. Measures
to ensure that immigration policy is consistent with Member States'
labour market policies are best carried out at a domestic level.
"The Government believes that international
co-operation is vital to achieve orderly migration flows and that
Member States should take into account the impact of their immigration
policies on source countries and, in particular, on developing
countries. While migration can have negative impacts on source
countries, it can also bring benefits and the Government will
seek the most appropriate methods to maximise these.
"Finally, the Government is committed to the
fair treatment of third country nationals. In order to maximise
the benefits of migration to Member States and to the migrants
themselves, it is vital that they are able to actively participate,
where appropriate, in the social, economic and civic life of the
UK. Measures to facilitate the social inclusion of those who are
legitimately in the UK are an important means of ensuring this.
"There are some details of the proposals about
which the Government will be seeking clarification. These include:
the legislative basis and reporting obligations
for the proposed open method of co-ordination; and
the timing and content of National Action
Plans and synthesis reports."
3.6 The Minister also tells us that the
proposed open method of co-ordination would place an additional
reporting cost on the UK.
3.7 The Government has generally welcomed
the "open method of co-ordination", but we note a certain
caution in its approach to this proposal, owing presumably to
the issue of the UK's position in relation to measures that come
under Title IV of the EC Treaty.
3.8 Our sister Committee in the House
of Lords has asked the Minister a number of questions in order
to clarify the implications of the proposal for the UK's position.
We will keep the document under scrutiny until we see her response.
10 (21845) 11529/00; see HC 28-iii (2000-01), paragraph
3 (17 January 2001). Back