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 Full text 
Briefing item

Immigration: legal migration and the fight against illegal migration

Immigration - 20-09-2007 - 09:25
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The Council and Commission will make statements on immigration, in particular on the events during the summer and the role of Frontex as part of a joint debate. The European Parliament will also debate two own-initiative reports relating to immigration on a policy plan for legal migration and policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration.

Frontex is an EU agency based in Warsaw. It was created as a specialised and independent body tasked to coordinate the operational cooperation between Member States in the field of border security.  The activities of Frontex are intelligence driven. Frontex complements and provides particular added value to the national border management systems of the Member States.
Legal migration
Lilli GRUBER (PES, IT) will present an own initiative report for the Civil Liberties Committee on a policy plan on legal migration which says that illegal immigration cannot be countered unless means and channels of legal immigration are established at the same time, since the two phenomena are closely linked.
According to Eurostat the number of third-country nationals legally resident in the 27 EU Member States is approximately 18.5 million (whilst nearly 9 million EU citizens are resident in a Member State other than their own.
The report supports the intention of the Commission to define the conditions of entry and stay for other selected categories of economic immigrants, including unskilled or low-skilled workers.
No brain drain but 'brain circulation'
The Civil Liberties Committee welcomes the Commission Communication on circular migration and partnerships for mobility between the EU and third countries. The committee agrees that the damaging effects of ´brain drain´ must be avoided, fostering instead ´brain circulation´.
'Blue card'
The report also supports the creation of an EU work permit (the so-called blue card) to facilitate the free movement of 'brains' within Europe and the transfer of personnel within multinational companies.
The report also emphasises the particular responsibility of the media (in particular European public radio and television broadcasters) in the dissemination of an accurate image of immigration and in countering stereotypes.
Policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals
Javier MORENO SÁNCHEZ (PES, ES) will be presenting a second own initiative report on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration.  The report stresses that irregular migrants must not be treated like criminals and recalls that many of them risk their lives seeking freedom or the means of subsistence in Europe.
The number of third-country nationals in an irregular situation in the EU appears to be, according to somewhat conflicting estimates, between 4.5 m and 8 m.
Opposition to holding centres
The committee reiterates its firm opposition to the idea of setting up reception or holding centres for illegal immigrants or asylum seekers outside the Union's borders and in immigrants' regions of origin.
The regularisation issue
The report recalls that numerous Member States have carried out regularisations or said they will do so, and that these decisions are, in the present state of law, a matter for the discretion of the Member States but quite often a signal of lack of appropriate measures in place to deal with a phenomenon which forms a part of societies in most Member States and believes that en masse regularisation of illegal immigrants should be a one-off event since such a measure does not resolve the real underlying problem.
The report deeply regrets the fact that some Member States have failed to honour their undertakings to provide logistic and human support for its operations.  The committee also considers that, in the face of the migratory flow from the African continent towards Europe, Southern Member States on the external frontiers of the Union, notably smaller Member States, such as Malta and Cyprus, are currently shouldered with a disproportionate burden which calls for the strengthening of measures for the joint management of the Union’s external borders.
Lilli GRUBER (PESIT)Rapporteur : 
Javier MORENO SÁNCHEZ (PESES)Rapporteur : 
Key Debate : 9am, 26.09.07