France’s President has decided to make immigration one of the priorities of its presidency of the European Council. When it assumes the presidency, France will recommend that its partners adopt a “European pact on immigration and asylum”. The pact, introduced by Brice HORTEFEUX, Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Solidarity Development, at an informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) held in Cannes on the 7th and 8th of July, deals with the three agreements of the Global Approach to Migration adopted by the European Council in 2005:managing legal immigration, combating illegal immigration, and development in countries of origin and transit. It also reaffirms the necessity for close collaboration between countries of destination,origin and transit.
Why a pact on immigration and asylum?

One of the major developments in European construction has been the setting up of a huge area of free movement of people. This significant measure requires harmonisation between member states with regard to entry into EU territory, and close coordination with regard to their migration policies,since decisions taken by any one of the member States may affect other EU states, and even more so in the context of an enlarged European Union.

What is more, a consensus of opinion is emerging in Europe on a common outlook for immigration.

There is a need for this owing to the economic and demographic changes taking place in some

European states; it is a consideration to be taken into account for the prosperity and trade relations of countries of destination and origin, as well as immigrants themselves, especially through an ambitious integration policy. However, it may also be a source of tension within host countries, and a source of inequality and an affront to the dignity of immigrants when it is carried out haphazardly, so it must be planned and managed in a concerted and appropriate way.

Although progress has been made over the last twenty years with policies relating to visas, border checks, cooperation in combating illegal immigration and dialogue with countries of origin and transit,there are still major differences in practices between member states, which require a fresh impetus to establish a common policy for immigration and asylum.

For this reason, France believes the time is ripe for the European Council to take a strong initiative in this direction.

What is the European pact on immigration and asylum?

In December 2007, the European Council considered it necessary to have a renewed political commitment concerning immigration. This is the specific aim of the Pact through which the European Union and its member states will determine a set of principles which will mutually commit them to citizens within Europe as well as in the rest of the world. Remaining true to the values which have prevailed from the outset to European construction, the Pact will fully respect the principle of subsidiarity, the division of powers, the responsibilities devolving upon member States and essential European solidarity.

The commitments contained in the pact will provide inspiration for the next multiannual programme for Justice and Home Affairs, which will succeed the Tampere and The Hague programmes. These commitments must be implemented, for some of them, by member States and, for others, by the Community. These measures will be accompanied by arrangements for monitoring and evaluation.

What is in the planned European act on immigration and asylum?

In addition to the Preamble placing the Pact within the framework of European construction, and a reiteration of the values and aims of the European Union, the pact consists of the five commitments based on shared principles and also includes the following concrete outcomes:

- To organize legal immigration while taking into account the requirements and capabilities

of member States to accept immigrants, which are determined by each member

State, and to promote integration

- To combat illegal immigration and in particular to ensure the effective removal of foreigners

who are in member States illegally

- To provide better protection for Europe by improving the effectiveness of border controls

- To develop an asylum system for Europe

- To develop a partnership with countries of origin and transit aimed at their development.

What is the time schedule for the European pact on immigration and asylum?

The Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Solidarity Development has worked

extensively for several months by holding meetings and clarifying the proposed pact. These manifold discussions have allowed the French presidency to present a text for the pact which fully takes into consideration the results of this preparatory work.Discussions will actively continue to enable the European Council to adopt the European Pact on immigration and asylum


In January 2007, the German Federal Minister of Home Affairs proposed the setting up of a high level informal group responsible for considering the future of security and immigration policies within the European Union. This group was composed of the three previous member State Presidencies(Germany, Portugal, Slovenia) and the new three (France, Czech Republic, Sweden), as well as the Commission. A representative from the States in common law, a representative of the three presidencies from Spain, Portugal and Hungary, as well as the European Parliament and the Secretariat General of the Council were included in its work.

Since then, the Future Group has met on six occasions, under the presidency of Germany, Portugal,then Slovenia, and supported by the Commission. Its work resulted in a final report, which the French presidency will present today to all member States. It should provide inspiration for the drawing up of a EU programme of work for the period 2010-2014, which will succeed The Hague programme.With regard to immigration, the work of the group is in keeping with the proposed European pact on immigration and asylum.For the coming period, the Union must take into consideration the increasing link between the internal situation of the European Union and the external pressures it is confronted with. In the same way, the Union must adapt to the continuing development of information technologies.This issue is particularly important for home affairs in the light of increasing exchanges of information between member States.

At the same time, European citizens are justifiably demanding guarantees with respect to their privacy.A “European model” of protection of personal data may be an aim for the future programme of work of the Union.In order to meet these challenges, member States must work more closely with each other. The Union must intensify exchanges of information between member States, develop joint European training programmes and the setting up of networks of European specialists, simplify procedures for cooperation and put into place solidarity mechanisms between member States.A principle of “convergence” such as this may serve as a guideline for the European Union in the coming period. It would favour closer cooperation between member States: closer cooperation between police forces, institutions, in practices, with equipment and legal frameworks. It would make it possible to plan the Union’s policy developments in a global and consistent way with regard to security and immigration in its future programme of work.