The Commission proposes to establish Dialogues on Migration, Mobility and Security with the North African countries. The Dialogue should encompass all migration-related aspects of the EU's future relationship with the region. Mobility Partnerships will be agreed to better manage legal mobility opportunities between the EU and the North African countries.
Of course sufficient safeguards must be in place for the facilitation of movement. Within the Dialogue our partners will have to ensure that they will take all effective measures to prevent irregular migration and will allow for the return of their citizens who do not have the right to stay in Europe. The Commission has already made first contacts with Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks to start these Dialogues, and hopes to engage with other interested partners in the near future.
On 12 May, twelve EU countries, together with another three countries not in the EU, pledged to resettle 323 refugees who arrived in Malta as migrants. The promises were made at a special pledging conference convened by Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom as part of an intra-EU migrants’ resettlement pilot project. And only recently, an AFM patrol boat towed a boat carrying 347 migrants to Malta after they were rescued some 20 miles south-east of Delimara.
The Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum (2010) highlights the main developments at the EU and national levels in the field of migration last year. It points, for example, to the measures taken to assist Greece in managing its external frontiers, which involved the deployment by FRONTEX of border guards from other European countries on the Greek land border with Turkey, as well as the extensive assistance given to Greece by the Commission and Member States in the ongoing complete overhaul of the country's asylum system. To remedy the shortcomings identified, the Report contains political recommendations namely with regard to the strengthening of border control, the prevention of irregular migration, the facilitation of legal migration, the development of a common European asylum system, the integration of third country nationals, and the development of the external dimension of the EU's migration policy.
Visa Policy is a crucial component of an efficient European migration policy. The current EU legislation on visa policy does not allow for swift decision-making. The procedure for lifting or introducing visa obligations is done through the ordinary co-decision procedure and can therefore take up to a few years. The proposed amendments foresee the introduction of a safeguard clause that would allow, under certain exceptional conditions, for the temporary reintroduction of the visa requirement for citizens of a third country.
These initiatives are a first follow up to the Communication on Migration adopted on 4 May 2011. They will be discussed at the upcoming Justice and Home Affairs Council on 9 June 2011 and will help prepare the ground for a discussion on European asylum and migration policy between EU heads of state and government during the European Council in Brussels on 24 June 2011.