The EESC welcomes the new funds, very different to each other, that will give continuity to the work undertaken, and approves of the increase in their financial allocation. Equal treatment and anti-discrimination policies represent the pillars of European policies, including those concerning the integration of third-country nationals. The removal of the word "integration" from the title is worrying, as this could be seen as reflecting diminishing concern for this aspect. The Committee welcomes the importance given to flexibility in both funds, as this entails acknowledging the importance of better reflecting the needs of each Member States within the framework of joint action.
Asylum and migration management regulation and crisis and force majeure regulation - Related Opinions
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The EESC considers the intention to create ETIAS as a currently inevitable step corresponding to the threats caused by external and internal circumstances. ETIAS should be based on the right balance between risks and safety, at the same time avoiding increased administrative burdens and barriers for people travelling to the EU. The Committee stresses that ETIAS should fully respect the fundamental rights of applicants and avoid any discrimination. All data gathered by the system must be protected and access to it should be strictly limited. All applicants should be allowed to use the services of intermediaries to obtain the travel authorisation, if needed. However, the costs charged by these intermediaries for their services should be monitored and evaluated by EU delegations in the third countries.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) believes that the European Agenda on Migration should be designed so as to take into full consideration the humanitarian dimension of its scope, and the EU should not forget its fundamental commitments and legally binding rules to protect lives and human rights, especially of people in danger. The EESC supports the vision to provide a long-term response to migration, addressing the root causes of migration and creating a dialogue with third countries based on cooperation and shared responsibility. Tailored and specific agreements with each country, with full respect of human rights are also supporter. Flexibility provides the right perspective and combination of actions and incentives.
The Committee supports the European Commission proposal for the creation of a Union Resettlement Framework and calls for a genuine common asylum policy that respects European values. It calls for the common criteria for resettlement to focus on people's need for protection, not on the third country's effective cooperation on asylum and it considers the "first country of asylum" and "safe third country" concepts to be open to question due to the current unsafe and unstable situation in the third countries and regions concerned. The Committee calls for the resettlement programme to be uncoupled from partnership agreements that aim to encourage third countries to prevent refugees from fleeing, as this carries the risk of infringing international law and fundamental rights.
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.
In this opinion the EESC supports further harmonisation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and welcomes the proposed improvements. However, it is concerned about some limitations of fundamental rights of asylum seekers. It sets out specific recommendations on the three proposals for: the Qualification Regulation, the Common Procedure Regulation and the Standards of Reception Directive, taking into account the human rights perspective, in line with the opinion on CEAS Reform I.
An efficient reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is essential. While the EESC approves of the proposal to improve and speed up the determination of Member State responsible for examining an asylum application, it calls for including protective provisions on procedural issues, individual treatment of applications, maintenance of discretionary clauses, maintenance of the deadline for the cessation of obligation for a Member State to assume responsibility and the rights of applicants.
EU Member States face the arrival of many refugees, who need to be integrated into the host societies once their protected status is granted. The EESC is convinced that integration is a necessity for the preservation of social cohesion. This exploratory opinion, drawn up at the request of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, clarifies the meaning of "integration" and looks at comparability with previous refugee movements, successful integration measures applied in the various EU member states, and the financing of integration measures for refugees, resulting in a set of best practices and recommendations.
Delivering on the European Agenda on Migration from May, the European Commission has put forward a comprehensive package of proposals which should help address the refugee crisis by alleviating pressure from the most affected Member States. One of the measures announced was a Permanent Relocation Mechanism for all Member States.
The refugee crisis in the EU has reached the point at which the founding principles of human rights protection and democracy are being called into question. Despite the difficulties, EESC strongly believes that these principles must be upheld and properly implemented. The crisis relocation mechanism is a concrete example of cooperation based on solidarity and responsibility. However, the EESC wishes to have this relocation mechanism and other similar initiatives included as part of a general strategy in order to ensure coherence and efficiency.
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