Asylum, borders, immigration and integration

An estimated 3,280 persons died at sea in 2014 while attempting to reach a haven in Europe, and the number of those rescued or apprehended at sea quadrupled compared with 2013. The number of displaced persons worldwide reached Second World War levels in 2014. Many move on from where they first arrive, with Germany and Sweden together receiving almost half of the asylum applications submitted in the EU.

Member States at the external borders are put under pressure to ensure that new arrivals are registered in Eurodac, the EU database set up to assist in determining which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application under the Dublin Regulation. Migration is one of the 10 priorities of the new European Commission. The equitable participation of migrants and their descendants in society remains a major challenge in many countries. Xenophobia, extremism and racist violence against migrants and refugees persist. Many Member States have policies and measures in place, but there is little evidence that their impact on the ground is effectively monitored.

FRA conclusions

For the first time since the Second World War, the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people worldwide exceeded 50 million in 2013, according to the UNHCR figures released in 2014.

  • More people in need of international protection therefore try to reach safety in Europe. Given that opportunities to enter the EU lawfully are limited, many remain in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, exposed to security and other risks, or try to reach the EU via smuggling networks. This situation raises concerns about fundamental rights and security that the EU and Member States should consider.
  • A FRA focus paper, released in February 2015, presents a toolbox to promote legal entry channels.EU Member States should offer more legal possibili¬ties for persons in need of international protection to enter the EU, as a viable alternative to risky irregular entry. The European Commission should support this by proposing common approaches, encouraging Member States to take action and share promising practices, and helping to ensure sufficient solidarity funds are available to Member States for this purpose.

In March 2014, the European Commission published a communication on EU return policy in which positive developments but also shortcomings in national laws were noted.

  • One example given was on stopping detention when there are no reasonable prospects of removing a person.
  • To promote consistent practices compliant with fundamental rights, the Commission announced the plan to adopt a handbook on return policy in 2015; it will cover topics, such as appre¬hension practices, alternatives to detention, and safeguards concerning the detention of persons in return procedures. It will also build on the guidance provided by the CJEU.
  • EU Member States should continue their efforts to implement fundamental rights safeguards included in the EU return acquis, making full use of existing and future guidance and tools issued by UN treaty bodies, the Council of Europe system, and EU institutions and agencies.EU funds in the area of Migration and Home Affairs should be used proactively for this purpose.

Two new funding mechanisms were set up to promote the application of EU law in the field of migration in 2014–2020.

  • The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund will support measures in the areas of asylum, legal migration and integration and return. The Internal Security Fund includes two separate instruments, one to support action in the field of borders and visa and a second for activities relating to police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management.
  • The European Commission and EU Member States should ensure that all actions funded under the EU funds are compatible with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. They are encouraged to use such funds to explore innovative ways to imple¬ment fundamental rights safeguards included in the EU acquis.

The new European Commission identified migration as one of its 10 priorities and committed itself to developing a new European policy on regular migration.

  • The Commission also expressed the need to promote skilled persons’ labour migration to the EU and announced a review of the Blue Card Directive.
  • As concluded at the FRA Fundamental Rights Conference in November 2014, the EU and its Member States should develop a comprehensive and sustainable migration policy and make efforts to shift the public discourse on migration to show its benefits for economic development and growth. Immigration schemes should also consider the contribution, in terms of talent and skills, that persons in need of international protection can make to society.

EU societies continue to face challenges in integrating migrants and their descendants.

  • Integration policies normally target employment and language learning, but rarely address broader issues of social inclusion, community cohesion, respect for human rights or political participation. The January 2015 attacks in Paris emphasise the need for such an approach, and the relevance of social inclusion policies that target the wider community (migrants, their descendants and nationals). Most Member States have social inclusion policies and measures that target not just migrants but also the general population, particularly training for public administration and media campaigns.
  • EU Member States need to address more effectively the challenges of social inclusion for migrants and their descendants, and confront xenophobia, intolerance and prejudice. Existing training programmes, including those targeting the general population, should be systematically monitored to assess their impact on the ground. Efforts to promote social inclusion as a process of mutual accommodation by all – migrants, their descendants and the general population – and based on universal human rights should be further supported.

Diversity and intercultural education are included as core elements in the general principles and objectives of 10 EU Member States.

  • Most Member States’ primary or secondary education teaches about different cultures in society. Eight Member States, however, do not include such elements in the national curriculum, and one Member State addresses diversity in extracurricular activities. Active political and social participation of migrants is also essential for successful integration. This is particularly relevant for women and for young people who are descendants of migrants. As education modules on diversity in society are integrated in school curricula in most Member States, it shows the efforts made to nurture inclusive, participatory and cohesive societies with equal opportunities for all.
  • EU Member States should ensure that educational systems promote respect for diversity and universal human rights. Education modules on diversity, as exist in many Member States, should be introduced throughout the EU as a core component of education systems.