ENTRY AND RESIDENCE OF THIRD-COUNTRY NATIONALS
FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAID EMPLOYMENT AND SELF-EMPLOYED ACTIVITIES
Draft Council Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of paid employment and self-employed economic activities.
|Legal base:||Article 63 (3)(a)EC; consultation; unanimity of participating States
|Document originated:||11 July 2001
|Forwarded to the Council:||6 September 2001
|Deposited in Parliament:||25 September 2001
|Basis of consideration:||Minister's letter of 3 January 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||HC 152-ix (2001-02), paragraph 8 ( 5 December 2001)
|To be discussed in Council:||No date set
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||For debate in European Standing Committee B (together with the draft Council Directive on the status of third country nationals)
3.1 This is one of several proposals being prepared in
accordance with the principles set out in the Commission's Communication
on a Community Immigration Policy,
which was cleared following a debate in European Standing Committee
B in April. This draft Directive is intended to address the substantial
differences among Member States in the conditions of admission
and stay for third country nationals who are in the European Union
for employment purposes. It aims to provide a common legal framework
within which Member States would have considerable flexibility
to develop their own admission policies for economic migrants.
3.2 As the legal base of this draft Directive falls within
Title IV of the EC Treaty, the UK had three months from the formal
publication of the proposal in which to decide whether to opt
in to the measure (in accordance with the provisions in the Protocol
on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland now annexed
to the EC Treaty and the Treaty of European Union). The UK has
decided not to opt in to the proposal.
3.3 When we considered the proposal in December, we asked
the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office
(Angela Eagle) a number of questions, and kept the document under
The Minister's letter
3.4 The Minister has responded promptly, addressing all
our questions and enclosing the annex on the implications of the
proposal for the UK state pension scheme which had not been attached
to the Explanatory Memorandum. She begins by telling us about
the Government's decision not to participate in the measure, as
"To date the Government has not participated in Title IV
migration measures on the grounds that to do so would be inconsistent
with the UK's ability to determine its admissions policy. We have
decided, similarly, not to opt in to this particular Directive.
But we shall keep the matter under review, in the light of the
opportunity which we have to opt in following its adoption."
The Minister also tells us that, as the draft Directive has not
yet been discussed at working group level, the UK does not know
what other Member States think of it.
3.5 We asked the Minister whether, in her view, the degree
of discretion allowed to Member States and the possibility of
some third-country nationals enjoying more favourable provisions
under existing bilateral or multilateral agreements seriously
undermined the proposed framework. She disagrees, saying:
"We think it is one of the strengths of the draft Directive
that the final decision on entry remains one which an individual
Member State makes. It is also important that Member States should
continue to adopt a more liberal approach in some areas should
they wish. For example, accession States have signed Association
agreements with the European Union which provide establishment
rights beyond those given in this draft Directive.
"The bilateral and multilateral arrangements are commitments
made by individual states and the European Union reflecting the
varying economic, political and historical ties. It would not
be appropriate to attempt to fit these into a common European
approach. Rather, the Directive proposes a common minimum standard
of treatment and common consideration factors. To that extent,
we do not believe that its proposals are undermined."
3.6 We asked the Minister to tell us more about the basic
rights to be granted to entrants and how they differed from those
proposed for long-term resident third-country nationals. The Minister
points us to the relevant Articles, but emphasises that, as the
text has yet to be discussed, it is difficult to judge what will
be accepted without amendment. She explains that the draft Directive
does not provide for permanent residence, unlike the long-term
3.7 In relation to the apparent restriction of the right
to vocational training, the Minister understands that the Commission
is proposing a separate Directive in this area, and has therefore
excluded it from this text.
3.8 Finally, we asked why the Minister considered that
time limits could have an adverse impact on operational procedures.
She tells us that her view is born out of experience. Although
many applications are dealt with very quickly, some may require
a detailed investigation. She continues:
"We would not wish to be forced to divert resources from
more pressing priority areas, such as consideration of asylum
applications, and believe that a Member State should be free to
determine the priority it attaches to each type of application.
Legal time limits would impede that. We do, however, think it
is important to tell applicants the likely time they will have
to wait to have their application determined and that is why we
are happy to agree to publish turnaround targets and achievement
3.9 We thank the Minister for her prompt response.
We do not, however, consider that she has given us the detailed
explanation of the Government's decision not to participate in
the measure for which we asked in our last report. We are also
not clear what she means by saying that the UK will "keep
the matter under review". Is the implication that UK policy
over admissions may change, or that, if certain provisions in
the draft Directive were amended in negotiations, the UK would
feel able to participate?
3.10 We consider the time is now right for a debate
on the UK's decision not to participate in a number of proposals
concerning third-country nationals. We therefore recommend this
document for debate in European Standing Committee B, together
with the Draft Council Directive on the status of third-country
nationals who are long-term residents, on which we report
(with more detailed reasons for our recommendation) in paragraph
11529/00; see HC 28-iii (2000-01), paragraph 3 (17 January 2001). Back