We took some time out this week to review current trends in immigration law amongst the Member States. The European Commission Report confirmed useful statistics and gave us food for thought. The report analyses immigration patterns in Europe and discusses the implementation of the Common European Asylum System. According to the report, there has been a 10% increase in asylum applicants compared to 2011. This increase is partly due to the conflict in Syria, which has displaced huge numbers of Syrian nationals. We have noticed an increase in queries from Syrian nationals who are normally seeking information on family reunification with family members living in Ireland. The report also notes that there are almost twice as many third-country nationals living in the EU compared to the number of EU citizens who live in another member state. Last year, over 300,000 people were refused entry to the EU.
EU policy on immigration and asylum focusses on a few main areas. These areas include attracting talent from third countries to the EU, efforts to adopt a harmonised, pan-European asylum system and the eradication of human trafficking.
Measures implemented to attract highly qualified professionals to the EU include the adoption of the EU Blue Card Directive, which took effect in 2009. This measure will be reviewed later this year. According to a Commission Communication from 2012, a smarter visa policy could contribute to economic growth. This would speed-up, facilitate and reinforce border check procedures for foreigners travelling to the EU.
The report laments increasing incidents of xenophobic violence, noting that integration of immigrants is essential to the success of policies to attract highly qualified employees into the EU workforce. The report also note that young people with an immigration background are significantly more likely to become ‘not in employment, education or training’ in comparison with their contemporaries. It is also argued that family reunification plays a part in promoting integration.
According to the report, a Common European Asylum System will lead to fairer, quicker and better quality asylum decisions and special needs of vulnerable people will be better taken into account. This will involve greater protection of unaccompanied minors and victims of torture. The measures are aimed at ensuring fundamental rights of asylum seekers are protected, especially the principle of non-refoulement.
The European Asylum Support Office, along with the Commission, works to tackle the biggest obstacles to solidarity. These obstacles include the Greek National Action Plan on Asylum and Migration, increasing numbers of Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Europe and the relocation of beneficiaries of international protection within the EU.
The report also looks at the measures being taken to eradicate human trafficking from third countries. The report notes that victims from outside the EU mainly come from Nigeria and China. The Commission launched the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings in 2012.
With regards to tackling irregular immigration, the report notes that bodies are working to tackle this at pressure points, including the Greece-Turkey border. Efforts are also under way to implement a common returns policy for irregular immigrants.