About the FRC
The Fundamental Rights Conference creates a space for policy-makers, experts and human rights defenders to examine key fundamental rights challenges and develop courses of action that better guarantee their protection.
The FRC intends to be:
- A forum to pool knowledge on fundamental rights and to share experience on developing good practices;
- A catalyst for developing an evidence-based approach to decision-making and practice;
- An opportunity to forge strategic partnerships between fundamental rights actors from local to supranational level.
Theme - 'Dignity and Rights of Irregular Migrants'
The number of irregular migrants in the EU is estimated to be in the range of 1.8 to 3.9 million people, according to recent estimates by the EU-funded project CLANDESTINO. This is approximately 6% to 12% of all those born outside the EU who are currently residing in the EU Member States. While some of them are living in hiding, others are known to the authorities but cannot be removed for administrative or humanitarian reasons.
The FRA research indicates that their lack of a legally recognised status makes them vulnerable to severe fundamental rights violations, including various forms of exploitation, lack of access to basic services, and obstacles in accessing justice. A number of areas require action, including, among other things, the need to:
- address the fundamental rights of migrants in an irregular situation who have been given a return decision but who have not been removed, and to have mechanisms in place that put an end to situations of legal limbo derived from protracted circumstances of non-removability;
- avoid disproportionate measures which undermine access by irregular migrants to basic rights (such as apprehensions near schools or hospitals and reporting requirements by social service providers) when detecting and apprehending irregular migrants;
- remove legal and practical obstacles that make it difficult or impossible for migrants in an irregular situation to seek justice, for instance, when they are exploited or abused by employers.
While recognising that policies to prevent irregular migration are legitimate, the FRC will place focus on the need to ensure that the fundamental rights of irregular migrants are respected at all times. Discussions will be framed by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as international and regional (Council of Europe) human rights standards, including the international labour law framework.
The conference topics relate to current and future EU policy and legislative developments, as laid out in the Stockholm Programme in particular. Current EU policy aims at preventing irregular migration by reducing pull factors, but it also recognises the strong demand for foreign labour across the EU and the need to facilitate regular immigration by developing legal immigration schemes. Immigration control tools adopted include the 2008 Return Directive as well as the 2009 Employer Sanctions Directive. Proposals for directives on 'seasonal workers' (a group particularly vulnerable to labour exploitation) and a 'single permit' have been put forward by the European Commission in 2010 and 2007, respectively, and aim to facilitate regular labour migration.
Within this wider policy context, the conference will contribute to an informed debate about the rights of irregular migrants. Building on the research findings of the FRA and others, the aim is to support policies and action at various levels that will help uphold these rights in practice. Although the FRC is not intended to produce formal or agreed conclusions, the results of the conference will be summarised and shared with all the relevant actors and will feed into the Agency's work.