Module II. The European Multinational and Multicultural Identity: assets and tensions, immigration and integration policies

3.4. Illegal immigration and return

There are probably between 2 and 3 million undocumented immigrants in Europe - accounting for 10 to 15 per cent of the total population of foreigners. Some estimates say there could be 500,000 a year.

In the wake of the tragic events which occurred in Ceuta and Me­lilla in the past year, Europe’s leaders agreed on the need to do more to stop illegal migration, which so often ends in hu­manitarian disas­ter. The European Commission took up the challenge to develop a compre­hensive policy and on 30 November 2005 proposed a series of priority actions to respond to the challenges of migration. Building on this document, EU Member States identified a series of concrete measures in a ‘Global Approach to Migration: Priority actions focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean’, which was adopted by the European Council on 15-16 December 2005. These measures amount to an ambitious agenda, with ac­tion envisaged in three areas:

  • increasing cooperation and action between Mem­ber States;
  • working with key countries of origin in Africa;
  • and working with neigh­bouring countries in the Mediterranean region.

The Commission states that the EU approach to the external di­mension of migration policy should be one of a spirit of partnership between coun­tries of origin, transit and destination, seeking to promote a comprehensive agenda that reflects the full range of inte­rests, priorities and anxieties of all coun­tries concerned. Respect for international obligations regarding human rights and the protection of vulnerable groups of people is the basis for such policy res­ponses. A variety of issues should be adressed, from improvements in the management of legal migration flows and joint efforts to fight illegal immigra­tion and human trafficking, to the inte­gration and rights of legal migrants and the strengthening of the linkages between migration and development.

In July 2006 the Commission adopted a Communication on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals (COM (2006) 402) which builds on the guiding principles and EU achievements and further develops new priorities. It follows a comprehensive approach, striking a balance between security and basic rights of individuals and thus addresses measures at all stages of the illegal immigration process.

In order to fully implement the Return Action Programme agreed in 2002, the Commission adopted in September 2005 a proposal for a Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. The objective of this proposal is to provide for clear, transparent and fair common rules concerning return, removal, use of coercive measures, temporary custody and re-entry while taking into full account the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of the persons concerned.

Activity 14

Watch the video-documentary on the story of African Immigrant Kingsley:

  • Desperate to migrate: Why does Kingsley want to leave his home-country?
  • Stuck on Africa’s shores: look at the map of foreigners camps in Europe and North-Africa ( Are their camps like these close to where you live? Have you encountered some of the people staying there?
  • ‘Not the promised land’: listen to what Kingsley tells us on his life in Europe and the discrimination he experiences

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