In advance of the European Council meeting (March), the European Commission reported on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and set out further key actions to be taken towards a comprehensive deal on migration by June 2018.
Key progress and areas for action:
- Saving lives and addressing root causes: protecting migrants along the Central Mediterranean route with a focus on saving lives, voluntary return and reintegration in countries of origin.
- Reinforcing external border management: national border guards supported by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency on all migratory routes. However, further contributions are needed in terms of personnel and equipment to sustain the ongoing operations. Work to develop the European Integrated Border Management strategy is ongoing reflecting the fact that the EU’s external borders are common borders requiring collective and joined-up action by national and EU authorities.
- Delivering on return and readmission: improving cooperation with countries of origin on return; practical agreements on return reached with three additional countries of origin while discussions with several further partner countries are underway. Proposal to introduce a new mechanism to trigger stricter conditions for processing visas when a partner country does not cooperate sufficiently on readmission. A growing number of return operations have been supported by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency but Member States have to ensure that the return of migrants is effectively carried out in the context of these joint operations.
- Relocation and resettlement: the EU relocation scheme is successfully coming to an end following two years of operation. Transfers for the remaining applicants (149 in Greece, 933 in Italy) are being prepared. The EU resettlement scheme was completed in 2017 with a total of 19,432 vulnerable persons brought safely to Europe. Resettlements under the EU-Turkey Statement continue. 19 Member States have pledged almost 40,000 places under the European Commission’s new resettlement scheme.
EU Visa policy
The European Commission also put forward a proposal to reform the EU’s common visa policy to adapt the rules to evolving security concerns, challenges linked to migration and new opportunities offered by technological developments.
The proposed changes to the Visa Code will make it easier for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa to come to Europe, facilitating tourism, trade and business, whilst strengthening security and mitigating irregular migration risks.
For more information:
- European Commission Press release: European Agenda on Migration: Continuous efforts needed to sustain progress
- European Commission Progress report on the Implementation of the European Agenda on Migration
- European Commission Press Release: EU Visa Policy: Commission puts forward proposals to make it stronger, more efficient and more secure
- European Commission Proposal: Regulation amending the Visa Code