A draft version of the strategic guidelines of the Council of the EU in the field of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), leaked by Statewatch, details how the Council plans to implement the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 to guide the EU’s work in the next five years in relation to migration and asylum. A priority is upscaling the cooperation with third countries across various policy areas to facilitate the “return of migrants”. The guidelines will be submitted for endorsement to the Council on 12-13 March 2020 in view of the European Council meeting on 26-27 March 2020.

The council plans to increase the EU’s leverage for “securing returns of migrants” by improving coordination between the different EU bodies, actors and member states active in the individual countries. As well as to integrate the objective with a broad set of policy areas including visas, legal migration possibilities, development and trade. Approaches to particular countries should be agreed and streamlined across the EU and its member states to maximize their impact.

In a recent policy note, ECRE has warned of EU development policy being hijacked by migration control conditionality. Tying EU Official Development Aid (ODA) to a country to the readmission of their nationals is likely to divert aid and undermine its prior purpose, the eradication of poverty.

As part of the “lessons learned” from “facing migration and asylum ‘crisis’”, the Council focuses on preventive measures through upscaling intelligence, technological equipment and coordination to detect intensifying situations early and pre-empt their escalation. To realise its integrated approach to security, the Council also calls for the effective implementation of inter-agency cooperation and the interoperability of databases, including those related to asylum and migration.

Regarding streamlining the operation of the asylum system,n, the Council’s draft refers to the Commission’s announcement for a new pact on Migration and Asylum. According to the Commission’s work programme 2020 the pact will follow a “whole-of-route approach … acknowledging that the internal and external aspects of migration are inextricably linked” with the reform of the Common European Asylum Policy as an essential part of this approach. “The Commission will deliver a more resilient, more humane and more effective migration and asylum system, which will also underpin confidence in the Schengen Area of free movement”, the work programme states.

The Commission’s pact along with legislative proposals is expected to be released at the end of March.

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Photo: Cédric, May 2010

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.