This opinion provides with the EESC's views on the new EU Strategy on voluntary return and reintegration, a key objective under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The EESC welcomes the strategy as a management tool that seeks to improve coordination and Member States' shared objectives in the field of migration governance. It also agrees with the Commission's approach of further reviewing and harmonising the existing instruments, in order to, among other things, improve the fragmented approach to the issue, reduce the costs of return and increase the funding allocated to programmes. The EESC however continues to hold the view that the strategic weakness of the European Union's immigration and asylum policy is its almost exclusive focus on tackling irregular situations, whether at the border or through voluntary and forced returns.
Costs of non-immigration (and non-integration) (own-initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
The EESC stresses that ensuring balance in dealing with asylum applications should not have to be the responsibility of individual Member States alone, but should be managed by the EU as a whole. It recognises the importance of the proposals having the legal status of a regulation – as opposed to a Directive. The EESC is pleased that the regulations invoke the principles of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, but this burden is not sufficiently balanced. Solidarity needs to be binding, in the form of mandatory relocations.
This opinion will focus on three of the nine instruments contained in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum released by the European Commission in November 2020. The opinion deals with: i) the new screening regulation; ii) the amended proposal revising the asylum procedures regulation; iii) the amended proposal for a recast Eurodac regulation.
In this opinion, the EESC stresses that the EU needs to strike the right balance between effective and realistic migration management that is humane and sustainable, while ensuring security and control of its external borders. It must send a clear message that migration can be better managed collectively. It notes that the proposals accompanying the PMA are important but insufficient for the development of the common European framework for migration management, which would be both effective and in line with the EU's values and objectives.
This opinion, requested by the German Presidency of the Council, makes the following main recommendations:
- data collection and monitoring of diversity policies in the labour market must be improved at all levels;
- the principles of diversity management must be integrated into EU rules and generalised;
- more funds should be allocated to diversity management, in order to support the work of civil society organisations working with racialized groups and the diversity policies put in place by the social partners;
- to tackle the underutilisation of migrants' skills and increase their participation in the labour market, these need to be further recognised. In addition, migrants should benefit from free and universal training, including language courses;
- migrants should be active, not only in the labour market, but also in politics;
The EESC echoes the European Parliament's call to phase out all investor schemes and recommends that until then certain mitigation measures are put in place. Member States should be urged to apply a due diligence process without specific duration restrictions and adapted to the high-risk profile of applicants. A coordination mechanism should allow Member States to exchange information on successful and rejected applications for citizenship and residence permits. All agents and intermediaries providing services to applicants should be subject to anti-money-laundering rules as set out in the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The EU should encourage all agents providing services to applicants to be accredited and subject to a code of conduct. Authorities should maintain primary responsibility for accepting or rejecting applicants. Authorities must also maintain a set of measures to avoid conflicts of interest or bribery risks.
The opinion welcomes the revision of the Blue Card, since it makes the card more attractive as a way of entering the EU.
However, the Committee considers that Commission's proposal to replace parallel national schemes with a single EU-wide scheme goes too far, and prefers that Member States maintain their own routes for admitting highly qualified workers alongside the EU Blue Card.
The opinion agrees with the measures to facilitate granting of the card, but expresses scepticism about the application of lower salary thresholds.
Finally the opinion recalls that equal opportunities and non-discrimination must be guaranteed in the employing of third-county nationals and that close involvement of national and European social partners is needed in this field.