Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from the Chairman to Tony McNulty MP, Minister of State, Home Office

  Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union considered this Green Paper at a meeting on 25 January. We decided to clear the document from scrutiny.

  Paragraph 5.2 of the Green Paper mentions the importance of overcoming obstacles to the comparability of data. It is plainly desirable to have in the different Member States data which are collected, stored and retrievable in ways which are identical, or at least sufficiently similar for them to be scientifically analysed and compared. We wondered why this was not possible without an EU initiative. Could this not be done simply by agreement between the Member States? If an EU initiative does make this easier, does it really have to wait for the next stage of this project? We would have expected this to be one of the first tasks of the pilot project. We would be glad to have your comments on this.

26 January 2006

Letter from Tony McNulty MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 26 January.

  Paragraph 5.2 of the Green Paper on the future of the EMN mentions the importance of overcoming obstacles to the comparability of data within the EU. As you rightly say, it is desirable for Member States to provide comparable data on migration, and a number of initiatives are underway to take this forward.

  One of the current activities of the EMN is to carry out EU comparison research studies in a number of different migration and asylum related topics. The output of these research studies is a synthesis report which is based on information drawn from individual country reports produced by EU Member States. Statistical data is often part of the information used in these synthesis reports and so far the research studies have helped in highlighting difficulties in data comparison. However the Explanatory Memorandum on EMN mentions that we need to ensure that there is no overlap between EMN and other EU data comparison work.

  Statistical data on international migration and asylum are not at present available in some EU countries. Available data are often unreliable mainly due to under-coverage. Data that may be considered reliable are not necessarily comparable at EU level because of variety of used data sources, definitions and concepts.

  Since the Tampere meeting in 1999, the need for better statistics has been clearly emphasised in official EU documents, with the aim of supporting European policy on migration and international protection. A proposal to introduce an EU regulation for data collection in the field of migration and international protection was adopted in September 2005 by the EU Commission and is now under discussion in the EU Council and EU Parliament (Explanatory Memorandum attached) (not printed). The regulation is likely to go through at least one more draft, and although harmonisation is sought for outputs, the extent to which the figures will be fully comparable, will depend on the extent to which administrative systems become harmonised in the Member States over time.

  The THESIM (Towards Harmonised European Statistics on International Migration) project under the 6th Framework Programme aimed to support the implementation of this forthcoming EU regulation. Between April 2004 and August THESIM meetings were held in all EU countries with ministries involved in the registration or collection of data on international migration and asylum.

  After adoption by both EU institutions the statistics regulation will require all EU Member States to produce annually a full set of statistics on international migration and asylum, beginning in 2007. It will explicitly request reliable figures and metadata in order to make clear how far the provided data may be considered as comparable at EU level.

15 February 2006

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