A European Migration Organisation to help the EU develop clearer responses to migration.
First name(s) and family name(s) of the author(s) : Hugo Brady, Center for European Reform. (Proposition published in European Voice)
Date of the proposal : 16 juin 2011
Apprehending unauthorised immigrants on land and sea is costly and a moral minefield. Earlier intervention in often ill-conceived plans to travel to Europe could save lives, spare resources and help alleviate political tensions within the Schengen area. At their summit, leaders should complement the efforts of Frontex – and of the EU’s newly established refugee office in Malta – by creating a European Migration Organisation (EMO).
A European Migration Organisation would help the EU develop clearer responses to migration.
EU leaders will discuss reform of the Schengen area at their summit next week (23-24 June). Most observers expect some restrictions on borderless travel and the advancement of plans for a European border guard. But more innovative thinking is needed if the future of the Schengen is to be assured.
Taken separately, EU countries attract very different numbers of immigrants and from different locations. Depending on geography, historical ties and international perception, their border challenges and popular concerns over immigration vary widely. They can find precious little to agree on when it comes to a European migration policy, such as entry quotas or the distribution of migrants.
The relative success of Frontex, the EU’s modest border agency, shows that the Union helps best by delivering personnel, equipment and know-how to states struggling to cope with migration pressures. The agency demonstrated considerable mettle in mitigating last year’s partial collapse of the Greek-Turkish border and continues to assist Italy with the disembarkation of immigrants fleeing northern Africa.
But apprehending unauthorised immigrants on land and sea is costly and a moral minefield. Earlier intervention in often ill-conceived plans to travel to Europe could save lives, spare resources and help alleviate political tensions within the Schengen area. At their summit, leaders should complement the efforts of Frontex – and of the EU’s newly established refugee office in Malta – by creating a European Migration Organisation (EMO).
Headquartered in an EU country, the organisation would have branches in the Union’s overseas missions. Its specialists would enjoy semi-autonomous status but perform functions similar to immigration liaison officers posted in some national embassies.
Integrated into the EU’s global network, EMO operatives could feed back real-time information to national capitals about migration trends in key regions and foster intimate working relationships with immigration, labour, health and education authorities in their host countries. Most individual member-states have no such international reach on immigration issues, let alone Frontex or the European Commission’s home affairs and development directorates.
Importantly, the EMO would be funded mostly through contracts to carry out specific projects in migrants’ home countries and the „transit’ regions through which they travel to Europe. The market for such „migration-delivery services’ is healthy with governments and EU institutions readily outsourcing some tasks to private consultancies, the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration.
The EMO should not duplicate the work of other bodies where they have a clear lead, such as in refugee protection. But it could support joint European operations to send back immigrants who enter the Schengen area illegally, help foreign governments to resettle those who return home voluntarily and work with communities overseas at risk from human-traffickers and people-smugglers.
The organisation could also help manage EU „mobility partnerships’, pilot schemes to which Schengen countries trade some visas to foreign governments in return for greater co-operation on border control and repatriation of their nationals. In time, it could be contracted to administer more ambitious labour-migration programmes for the EU, provide consular services abroad for EU citizens and process the biometric information needed for Schengen visas.
Good leadership from the start would be crucial: the EMO director should set strategy and maintain relationships with EU institutions, the relevant UN bodies and others. He or she could also act as a special adviser on migration to EU interior and justice ministers.
The historian Tony Judt once wrote of the reflex tendency of European nations to build institutional talking-shops as “a prophylatic, to keep the past at bay”. But, by learning from past successes and failures, a European Migration Organisation could be something more. Neither a border guard nor an NGO, it would be a flexible body charged with helping governments respond to one of the perplexing public-policy challenges now facing Europe.
Hugo Brady is a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform.
politique d’immigration;migration;organisation communautaire;coopération régionale
Theme : Relationships with emerging and developing countries, immigationBack to top