The EU's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility - European Union Committee Contents

The EU's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility


The EU's Global Approach to Migration and Mobility

1.  Migration, the movement of people from one place to another, and mobility, the movement of people for short durations, are two of the most important issues facing today's global society. The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) is the external dimension of the EU's migration policy. The European Council adopted Conclusions on the GAMM on 29 May 2012.[1] It is based on partnership with third countries and designed to address in a coherent way the management of legal migration from third countries, the prevention and reduction of irregular migration, enhancing international protection and asylum policy, and the relationship between migration and development. Further information about the GAMM is provided in Box 1.

2.  Population density in the United Kingdom, which is roughly twice that of Germany and four times that of France, means that migration policy is a matter of keen political debate. The United Kingdom played a prominent role in the establishment of the GAMM in 2005—then called the Global Approach to Migration—during its Presidency of the EU, which was targeted towards cooperation with African and Mediterranean countries.[2] It was followed by a number of Commission Communications reporting on and updating it between 2006 and 2008, including its extension to the Eastern and South Eastern regions neighbouring the EU.[3]

3.  The Arab Awakening and events in the Southern Mediterranean brought to the fore the areas covered by the Global Approach. In September 2011 the Commission published its most recent Communication on the renamed GAMM. This extended its scope to cover mobility as well as migration and it also considered development and asylum matters for the first time, as well as adopting a more migrant-centred approach.


Commission Communication on the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility
The Communication presents a framework for the EU's approach to migration and mobility, which is intended to be migrant-centred and to respect their human rights. It has the following key objectives:
  • the GAMM should become the overarching framework of the EU's external migration policy, based on genuine partnership with non-EU countries and addressing migration and mobility issues within their appropriate regional context and framework;
  • the GAMM should establish a comprehensive framework to manage migration and mobility with partner countries in a coherent and mutually beneficial way through policy dialogue and close practical cooperation. It should be firmly embedded in the EU's overall foreign policy framework, including development cooperation;
  •   migration and mobility dialogues must aim to exchange information, identify shared interests and build trust and commitment as a basis for operational cooperation for the mutual benefit of the EU and its partners; and
  • the implementation of the GAMM should be the joint responsibility of the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS), including EU Delegations, and the Member States, acting in accordance with the respective institutional competences.

The GAMM has four thematic priorities:

  • organising and facilitating legal migration and mobility;
  • preventing and reducing irregular immigration and trafficking in human beings;
  • promoting international protection and enhancing the external dimension of asylum policy; and
  • maximising the development impact of migration and mobility.

The GAMM's main focus is the EU Neighbourhood, notably the Southern Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership. The possible enlargement of the EU to include some of the countries in these areas remains a separate policy path, with close partnerships being developed with Turkey and the Western Balkans regarding migration and mobility.

The implementation of the GAMM relies upon a number of instruments, including Mobility Partnerships. A number of knowledge, dialogue and cooperation tools also have a role to play. The GAMM is further underpinned by various EU legislative measures on legal and irregular migration and asylum, as well as being supported by agencies such as Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

The successful implementation of the GAMM will depend on adequate funding being made available through external financial instruments. The future EU Asylum and Migration Fund and Internal Security Fund, which will be agreed as part of the next Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2014 to 2020, will also help to fulfil the GAMM's aims. In order to ensure the GAMM's transparency and improve its implementation, the results of its operation will be presented in a biennial progress report.

The EU's asylum and immigration competence

4.  The EU first acquired partial competence over asylum and immigration matters through the establishment of the intergovernmental Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar under the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. In 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam transferred both matters from the JHA pillar into the former European Community pillar, which allowed the normal EU legislative process to be agreed in this area for the first time. The Schengen Area,[4] which removes internal borders between the participating states, was also brought within the framework of the treaties. This did not apply to the United Kingdom, although a protocol allowed it to participate in some aspects of the Schengen acquis. The United Kingdom also secured the right to decide whether it wanted to opt-in to individual asylum and immigration measures by virtue of another protocol. Until the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force in December 2009, the United Kingdom had decided to opt-in to most asylum measures, which formed part of the EU's attempt to establish a Common European Asylum System (CEAS), and some measures concerning irregular migration but not the majority of measures concerning legal migration, visas or border controls.

5.  The Treaty of Lisbon did not substantively extend the EU's competence in these policy areas and the United Kingdom's protocols were retained and extended.[5] Article 67(2) TFEU states that the EU "shall frame a common policy on asylum, immigration and external border control, based on solidarity between Member States, which is fair towards third-country nationals" and Articles 77 to 79 elaborate on each of these three policy areas. Article 79 TFEU made provision for the EU to develop a common immigration policy but Article 79(5) makes it clear that the right of Member States to determine the number of third-country nationals entering their territory for work purposes is unaffected by these provisions. The impact of Article 77, which concerns the absence of internal borders, in the United Kingdom is limited because of its non-participation in the Schengen Area.

The Committee's inquiry

6.  The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published a valuable report on the economic impact of immigration in the United Kingdom in 2008, which did not take account of the EU dimension.[6] This Committee also published a report on economic migration to the EU in 2006, which found—among other things—that migrant workers made a significant contribution to the economies of European countries but that the regulation of economic migration, including admission controls and procedures, should remain a Member State competence. It also recommended that the United Kingdom should participate fully in EU immigration measures.[7] This report also concentrates on the EU dimension. It seeks to discuss as dispassionately as possible an issue where the political debate can often become heated.

7.  We begin by setting out the context for our report by providing an overview of recent migration flows and patterns across Europe, including relevant statistical information, in Chapter 2. We then consider each of the GAMM pillars in turn: legal migration and mobility in Chapter 3; irregular migration and trafficking in human beings in Chapter 4; international protection and asylum policy in Chapter 5, and the development impact of migration and mobility in Chapter 6. The future of the GAMM is then considered in Chapter 7. During its inquiry the Committee was conscious that the United Kingdom is not a member of the Schengen Area and does not participate in many of the EU's asylum and immigration measures. As a result, Chapter 8 considers what the Committee believes to be the downsides of its partial participation and some aspects of its recent immigration policy.

8.  We hope that the Committee's conclusions and recommendations, which are collected together in Chapter 9, will be taken into account when the GAMM is next reviewed or reiterated.

9.  The members of the Home Affairs, Health and Education Sub-Committee who conducted the inquiry are listed in Appendix 1. Between May and November 2012 the Sub-Committee held ten oral evidence sessions and heard from 24 witnesses. They are listed in Appendix 2, together with those who submitted written evidence to the inquiry. At the beginning of November 2012 the Sub-Committee visited Brussels, where it took evidence from Stefano Manservisi, the Director General of the Commission's DG for Home Affairs, MEPs from the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee, and representatives from various international migration NGOs. We are most grateful to all those who gave us written and oral evidence, particularly Peter Sutherland, the UN's Special Representative for Migration and Tobias Billström, the Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy. The call for evidence that we issued is reproduced in Appendix 3. The United Kingdom's participation in different EU asylum and immigration measures is set out in Appendix 4 and a list of acronyms and abbreviations can be found in Appendix 5. The evidence we received is available online.

10.  Throughout the course of this inquiry we have been fortunate to have as our specialist adviser Dr James Hampshire, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sussex. We are most grateful for his expert knowledge, his guidance and his valuable contribution to this report.

11.  We make this report to the House for debate.

1   Council Document No 9417/12 Back

2   The Commission published a Communication, Priority actions for responding to the challenges of migration: First follow-up to Hampton Court (COM (2005) 621) on 30 November 2005. This was adopted by the European Council as the Global approach to migration: Priority actions focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean (Document No 15744/05) on 13 December 2005. Back

3   Commission Communications: The Global Approach to Migration one year on: Towards a comprehensive European migration policy, COM (2006) 735, 30.11.2006; Applying the Global Approach to Migration to the Eastern and South-Eastern Regions Neighbouring the European Union, COM (2007) 247, 16.05.2011 and Strengthening the Global Approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies, COM (2008) 611, 8.10.2008. Back

4   As established by the Schengen Agreement in 1985, with further detailed provided by the Schengen Convention in 1990. It includes 26 European countries, including all of the EU Member States, except the UK and Ireland, and four non-EU countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus have yet to be admitted as full member of the Schengen Area. Back

5   Protocols 19 and 21 TFEU Back

6   Economic Affairs Committee, The Economic Impact of Immigration (1st Report of Session 2007-08, HL Paper 82) Back

7   EU Committee, Economic Migration to the EU (14th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 58) Back

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