OPEN METHOD OF CO-ORDINATION FOR THE COMMON
Commission Communication on the common asylum policy, introducing an open co-ordination method.
|Document originated:||28 November 2001
|Forwarded to the Council:||30 November 2001
|Deposited in Parliament:||3 January 2002
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 7 January 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None
|To be discussed in Council:||Date not set
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
10.1 This Communication is both a first report on the
application of the Commission Communication, Towards a common
asylum procedure and a uniform status, valid throughout the Union,
for persons granted asylum,
and a proposal that the open method of co-ordination be applied
to asylum policy.
Progress to date
10.2 The first part of the Communication notes that all
the proposals for the first phase of the asylum legislative programme
have now been framed. It summarises the measures and the progress
made on them to date. It also lists a number of flanking measures
and other related initiatives.
10.3 The Communication also discusses other issues: the
relationship between international protection obligations and
internal security; progress made on the common analysis and improved
exchange of statistics on asylum and migration; the external dimension
of asylum policy.
10.4 The final section of the Communication contains
a number of recommendations. Several call on Member States for
speedier action and greater effort to give effect to measures
and implement them.
The open method of co-ordination
10.5 The most significant part of the document is the
section about the open method of co-ordination. This method (already
used in relation to the Employment Strategy and the EU Social
Policy Agenda and also proposed for the Community immigration
an annual cycle of adoption of guidelines by the Council, the
development of National Action Plans by Member States, and the
drafting of a synthesis report evaluating the Plans against the
guidelines. The intention is for Member States to learn how to
cope with common challenges in a particular policy field in a
way which promotes co-ordination while respecting national diversity.
It is a decentralised approach in line with the principle of subsidiarity.
The Communication advocates applying this method to asylum policy
and puts forward guidelines, proposed instruments and recommendations
for its operation.
10.6 The Communication suggests five guidelines covering
the following broad areas: knowledge of migratory movements; developing
an efficient and inclusive asylum system; returns of unsuccessful
asylum applicants; relations with third countries; integration
of those granted asylum. Following consultation, the Commission
may present these as the basis of a formal proposal.
10.7 In line with the open method of co-ordination, Member
States would be required to draw up National Action Plans annually.
These would both review the previous year's actions to implement
the guidelines and put forward proposals for future work.
The Government's view
10.8 In her Explanatory Memorandum, the Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Angela Eagle) welcomes
the Communication which, she considers, adds impetus to the progress
being made in asylum policy. She sees significant potential benefits
for the UK in the harmonisation of European asylum systems, telling
"In particular, the harmonisation process should reduce the
secondary migration of asylum seekers, or 'asylum shopping', between
Member States. This is particularly relevant for the UK, since
many of our asylum seekers arrive via at least one other European
country rather than directly from their country of origin."
10.9 The Minister considers that the open method of co-ordination
will complement the legislative programme, although it cannot
replace it. She continues:
"The arguments and guidelines set out by the Communication
broadly reflect much of the Government's current thinking. It
considers that a multi-dimensional international approach that
seeks to manage all stages of the asylum trail is the best way
to control migration flows and share the burden that asylum applicants
can pose for the receiving State. Forming partnerships with countries
of origin and transit, understanding migration flows, effective
and fair consideration of asylum applications and integrating
successful asylum applicants, whilst returning unsuccessful ones,
are all aspects of the same phenomena. As such the government
considers that it is logical to link them together as part of
a broad strategy of control."
10.10 The Minister lists some details of the proposal
on which the Government will seek clarification, as follows:
" Ensuring that appropriate safeguards exist to
exclude terrorists and other undeserving cases from the asylum
- The timing and content of National Action Plans;
- How prescriptive the guidelines need to be and when they are
first likely to be adopted;
- The nature and extent of the role that the Commission will
play, with a view to ensuring that the principle of subsidiarity
is correctly interpreted; and
- The exact nature of the relationship between the ongoing legislative
programme and the open co-ordination method."
10.11 This is rather a portmanteau Communication,
containing a number of items which do not fit together in a very
coherent way. While the summary of progress is presented factually,
the Commission's disappointment with the slow timescale shines
through the recommendations and is reflected in the Minister's
10.12 We record elsewhere in this Report the Minister's
welcome for the open method of co-ordination in relation to immigration
is equally positive about the application of the method to asylum
policy, although we note her concern to emphasise that it cannot
replace the legislation programme in this area.
10.13 We shall, of course, wish to scrutinise any
formal proposal for guidelines that the Commission puts forward.
Meanwhile, we clear the document.
13119/00; see HC 28-viii (2000-01), paragraph 3 (14 March 2001). Back
11007/01; see paragraph 8 above. Back
34 Ibid. Back