European Scrutiny Committee Contents

77 European Pact on Immigration and Asylum



COM(10) 214

+ ADD 1

Commission's first report on immigration and asylum

Commission staff working document: supporting information

Legal base
Document originated6 May 2010
Deposited in Parliament25 May 2010
DepartmentHome Office
Basis of considerationEM of 28 May 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
Discussed in Council3 June 2010
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


77.1 The EU has adopted three programmes on justice and home affairs since 1999 (Tampere 1999-2004; Hague 2005-2009; and Stockholm 2010-14). Proposals for common EU policies on asylum and immigration feature in all three programmes. A lot of EU legislation has been adopted on both subjects, such as the Directive on minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers and the Decision establishing FRONTEX (the EU agency for the coordination of operational cooperation between Member States at the external borders of the EU).

77.2 In 2008, while holding the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the French Government advocated a fresh impetus for the EU's policies on immigration and asylum. It proposed an EU Pact on Immigration and Asylum.[336] The Pact includes five political commitments:

  • for legal immigration to take account of the priorities, needs and reception capacities of each Member State and to encourage the integration of legal immigrants;
  • to control illegal immigration by ensuring the return of illegal migrants to their countries of origin or transit;
  • to make the control of the EU's external borders more effective;
  • to "construct a Europe of asylum" (to complete the establishment of a common European asylum system by, for example, reducing the differences in Member States' asylum policies and procedures and introducing a uniform status for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection); and
  • to create EU and Member State partnerships with immigrants' countries of transit and origin.

77.3 Under each of these headings, the Pact lists action which the EU and Member States might take to give effect to the commitments. For example, in order to give effect to the commitment on the control of illegal immigration, the Pact invites Member States to take vigorous action against employers who exploit illegal immigrants.

77.4 The Pact emphasises that it is for each Member State to decide for itself the conditions for the admission of legal migrants and how many to admit in the light of the requirements of its labour market and demography. It also emphasises the need for each Member State to take account of the effect of its policies and decisions on other Member States.

77.5 The European Council adopted the Pact in October 2008.[337]

The Commission's first report on the implementation of the Pact

77.6 The report gives the Commission's assessment of the implementation of the Pact by the EU and Member States between October 2008 and the end of 2009. It views are marshalled under the five headings used in the Pact. The Commission also makes some recommendations.

77.7 For example, under the heading Construct a Europe of asylum, the report says that:

  • At EU level, as required by the Pact, the Commission made proposals to set up the European Asylum Support Office and to amend the "first phase legislation" on asylum (the Asylum Procedures, Qualification and Reception Conditions Directives and the EURODAC and Visa Information System Regulations). Non-legislative action included the completion of evaluations of the regional programmes to provide protection for refugees close to their regions of origin. Ten Member States (including the UK) agreed to the resettlement in their territories of people who had been granted international protection by Malta.
  • At national level, some Member States agreed to the voluntary resettlement of refugees. More Member States took part in practical cooperation activities; for example, the UK and the Netherlands provided training for Malta's and Greece's immigration services.
  • Overall, while some useful progress was made, the negotiations on the amendment of the first phase legislation had proceeded slowly and the majority of Member States "have not shown much interest in solidarity measures in the form of intra-EU relocation of beneficiaries of international protection".[338]
  • The Commission recommends that, in the negotiations on the amendment to the EU's existing asylum legislation, Member States should stand by their commitment to a common European asylum system; all concerned should give their support to a quick start for the European Asylum Office; and more Member States should help those under most pressure from asylum seekers by accepting the relocation of refugees and providing technical assistance.
  • In the Conclusion to the report, the Commission says that its recommendations are intended to identify priorities for the coming year and that "Further impetus will also come from changes under the Lisbon Treaty, notably the enhanced role of the European Parliament, and from the Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme".[339]

The Government's view

77.8 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 28 May 2010, the Minister for Immigration at the Home Office (Damian Green) tells us that the Commission's report has no policy, financial or legislative implications for the UK. The Government will carefully examine any proposals stemming from the report.

77.9 The JHA Council discussed the Commission's report on 3-4 June. The Council welcomed the progress that has been made so far in implementing the Pact. It agreed that more effort would be needed over the next year on, for example, EU policy on legal migration; countering the smuggling and trafficking of third country nationals; the protection of the external borders of the Member States; and cooperation between Member States on asylum.


77.10 We draw the report to the attention of the House because of the importance of its subject. There are no questions about the document or the Government's views on it that we need put to the Minister. We are content, therefore, to clear the report from scrutiny.

336   (29937) 12626/08: see HC 16-xxix (2007-08), chapter 17 (10 September 2008). Back

337   Brussels European Council 15-16 October 2008, Presidency Conclusions, paragraphs 19 and 20. Back

338   First report, page 7, final sentence of fourth paragraph. Back

339   First report, page 10, final sentence. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 22 September 2010