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The future of the EU migration policy

These pages provide information on what EU immigration policies are based on.

You will also find details on EU-wide immigration rules and future plans.
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EU Immigration Policy Framework

Future of EU policyEU countries have agreed to develop a common immigration policy to ensure that legal migration to the EU is well managed, to improve integration measures for migrants and their families and to enhance cooperation with migrants' countries.

These goals are reflected in the Stockholm Programme, a roadmap for developing the EU's migration policy from 2009 to 2014. It aims to build a Europe of "responsibility, solidarity and partnership in migration and asylum" with a "dynamic and comprehensive immigration policy". The Stockholm Programme encourages coherence between migration policy and other closely related EU policy areas, such as development aid and relations with countries outside the EU.

The EU's Global Approach to Migration

In order to manage migration effectively, the EU works in close partnership with both the countries from which migrants come and the countries that many migrants pass through to get to the EU.

Through this partnership approach, the EU strives to balance its three key policy aims of (1) better organising migration for development.

This 'global approach to migration' is the external dimension of the European Union's migration policy. It is a framework for dialogue and cooperation with non-EU countries in the area of migration and is central to the aims of the Stockholm Programme, which include:
  • Encouraging mobility and legal migration to the EU, while at the same time promoting development in migrants' home countries to improve living standards and minimise 'brain drain'.
  • Ensuring coherent policy making within the EU so that a global approach to migration is fully integrated into all EU initiatives outside the Union, including development aid work and foreign relations.
  • Promoting legal migration whilst preventing irregular migration.
Initiatives which turn the priorities and proposals of the Stockholm Programme into practice are found in the EU's Action Plan on implementing the Stockholm Programme (2010).
EU Immigration Rules and Future Plans

Coming to the EU

EU-wide laws (directives) have already been introduced to standardise admission and residence rules for the following categories of non-EU citizens wishing to come to an EU country to work or study: EU-wide admission and residence rules for other categories of non-EU citizens are under discussion, following proposals made in the EU's 2005 Policy Plan on Legal Migration and reaffirmed in the Stockholm Programme. These include EU directives on:
  • seasonal workers;
  • employees of multinational companies who wish to move to a branch office in an EU country.

In December 2011 the Single Permit Directive was adopted. This new legislation introduces a single residence and work permit for all non-EU citizens. It will simplify the life of migrants applying to reside and work in the EU. It will also ensure that non-EU workers who legally reside in an EU country will enjoy a common set of rights based on equal treatment with nationals of the host EU country. EU countries will have to make sure that their national legislation is in line with this directive by early 2014.

Staying in the EU

Non-EU citizens who live legally in an EU country must be treated well and have their rights upheld. EU-wide rules enable non-EU citizens to become integration policy aims to grant these non-EU citizens rights and obligations similar to those of EU citizens.

Visa Policy

The EU has established a border-free single travel zone called the common visa policy has been agreed for short stays of up to three months. As part of this policy, EU Schengen area countries all issue the same short-term Schengen visa which allows travelers to move freely within the single travel zone.

Further Information

More on the EU's global approach to migration

More on initiatives arising from the Stockholm Programme

More on EU immigration policy