European Commission proposes initiatives for migration and border reform

12 Sep 2018

In his State of the Union Address 2018, President Jean-Claude Juncker presented new proposals to “ensure full EU solidarity on migration and better protection of Europe’s external borders”.

The European Commission proposes the following initiatives for migration and border reform:

A stronger and more effective European return policy

  • A new border procedure: persons with asylum applications rejected during border procedures would be channelled towards a simplified return procedure, with no period for voluntary departure and shorter time limits for appeals.
  • Clear procedures and rules to prevent abuses:  return decisions would issue immediately after or together with a decision ending the legal stay. Common timelines of a maximum of 5 days would apply for appeals to return decisions in the case of rejected asylum seekers and an obligation to cooperate for persons subject to a return procedure would be introduced, including on identity verification and to obtain travel documents.
  • Efficient voluntary returns:  Member States would have to set up voluntary return programmes to promote voluntary returns and enhance financial and practical support.
  • Clear rules on detention: common criteria to determine the risk of absconding, one of the determining factors for whether detention would be justified, would help ensure a more efficient use of detention during return procedures in full respect of fundamental rights.

A strengthened and fully equipped European Border and Coast Guard

  • Increased operational staff by 2020: to ensure predictable and appropriate resources. 
  • Executive powers: members of the EU Border and Coast Guard standing corps would be able to carry out tasks requiring executive powers such as identity checks, authorising or refusing entry at the external borders, and intercepting people at the border in order to ensure their full operational effectiveness. 
  • Support return procedures: support return procedures in Member States, for example by identifying irregularly staying non-EU nationals, acquiring travel documents and preparing return decisions for national authorities, who remain responsible for taking the actual return decisions. 
  • Cooperation with non-EU countries: launch joint operations and deploy staff outside the EU and neighbouring countries – subject to prior agreement of the non EU-country concerned  
  • Increased financial means: €1.2 billion allocated for the period 2019-2020 and €11.3 billion for period 2021-2027. 

A reinforced European Union Agency for Asylum

  • Provide full operational support on asylum procedures.
  • Joint EU migration management teams would support Member States when needed and requested, including in hotspots and controlled centres.
  • Increased financial means to ensure the Agency can carry out its increased tasks.

Enhancing safe and legal pathways to Europe

  • EU Blue card: Introduce the proposed new EU Blue card scheme to attract highly-skilled workers to the EU and improve the competitiveness of the EU economy.
  • Resettlement: Member States called on to deliver on their commitment to resettle 50,000 persons in need of international protection by October 2019.
  • Strengthen cooperation with non-EU countries: including launching pilot projects on legal migration with key African countries by the end of 2018.

For more information:

European Commission Press Release: State of the Union 2018 – Commission proposes last elements needed for compromise on migration and border reform (12.09.2018)

European Commission – Fact Sheet: State of the Union 2018: Stronger EU rules on return – Questions and Answers

European Commission – Fact Sheet: State of the Union 2018: A fully equipped European Border and Coast Guard – Questions and Answers

European Commission – Fact Sheet: State of the Union 2018: A reinforced European Union Agency for Asylum – Questions and Answers

See also: State of the Union 2018 – migration webpage

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