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Some 20.5 million non-EU nationals were living in the EU in 2011, which represents about 4 percent of the entire population. To compare with this figure, 250,000 to 300,000 people on average apply for asylum in the EU each year. FRA collects data and information on the implementation of these people’s rights, identifying existing gaps as well as promising practices in the Member States. It then proposes ways of addressing shortfalls on the one hand, and making wider use of good practices on the other. Until now, the agency’s work has focused on fundamental rights at borders, the rights of migrants in an irregular situation, and asylum. In 2013, FRA will begin research on severe forms of labour exploitation, which is often closely connected to the violation of migrants’ and asylum seekers’ rights.
The EU has a set of rules and policies that cover visa, borders and asylum, counteract irregular migration and, to a lesser extent, concern the admission and integration of migrants. In addition, most rights enshrined in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights apply to everyone, regardless of their migration status. The Charter contains the right to asylum, and prohibits collective expulsion and the removal of individuals if there is a risk to their life or of other serious harm.
Based on its findings and research FRA provides practical guidance to support the implementation of fundamental rights in the EU Member States.
FRA provides practical guidance in the following area:
Apprehension of irregular migrants
FRA has compiled a document providing practical guidance on the fundamental rights considerations of apprehending migrants in an irregular situation, drawing on input from stakeholders.
It includes do’s and don’ts for law enforcement officials. The findings were drawn up following two meetings with Member State experts, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) as well as the European Commission. It is part of FRA’s larger work on the fundamental rights of migrants in an irregular situation and follows suggestions made during the Fundamental Rights Conference 2011. The conference showcased FRA’s work on the rights of irregular migrants which revealed that certain practices to detect irregular migrants may disproportionately discourage them from accessing essential services, such as health, education and legal services.
This latest document, providing operational guidance on fundamental rights, has been handed over to relevant EU institutions for further consideration. It was presented to the Council Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion on 26 September and on 28 September to the Contact Committee of EU Member State representatives, which is convened by the European Commission under the Return Directive. The Contact Committee meeting, which took place on 15 March, decided to include the guidance document in the minutes of the meeting. The aim of the minutes is to develop joint views on how the requirements set out in the Return Directive might be met.
The obligation under Article 6(1) of the Return Directive to issue a return decision to any third-country national staying illegally on their territory is subject to the principle of proportionality expressly recognised by the Return Directive. The minutes state that the legitimate aim of fighting illegal migration may be balanced against other legitimate State interests, such as general public health considerations, the interest of the State to fight crime, the interest to have comprehensive birth registration, respect for the best interest of the child as well as other relevant fundamental rights recognised by the EU Charter.