Over 2011, European Alternatives is organizing a deliberative consultation with citizens and stakeholders in a sample of six EU countries on transeuropean issues relating to the area of Justice, Security and Freedom contained in the Stockholm Programme (2010-2014). The consultations will be taking place in the UK, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain and Romania, but citizens from throughout Europe will be involved.
Establishing a Europe of responsibility, solidarity and partnership in migration and asylum matters, which fights against racism and xenophobia, isone of the six topics around which citizens’ panels will be organized.
These consultations are imagined to decline a specific set of shared demands at a European level in the areas of citizens’ rights, leading to specific actions, including the possibility of a European Citizens’ Initiative.
Political and institutional framework
Migration law in Europe is regulated by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union under the area of Freedom, Security and Justice.
According to articles 61.1 and 61.2 “the Union shall constitute an area of freedom, security and justice with respect for fundamental rights and the different legal systems and traditions of the Member States. It shall ensure the absence of internal border controls for persons and shall frame a common policy on asylum, immigration and external border control, based on solidarity between Member States, which is fair towards third-country nationals…”
A series of regulations and directives have been adopted step by step at the European level, but the European Union lacks a solid common policy. In a region sharing a single border, the diversity of legislations stipulating on a same subject is no longer satisfactory.
Initiatives such as the European Commission proposal for a European ‘Blue Card’ for skilled migrants as well as the adoption of the ‘Return Directive’ on the standards for sending illegal immigrants back to their countries demonstrate the unrest and urgent need of clear reforms of migration policies in Europe.
The “European Pact on Immigration and Asylum” provides the basis for the development of a common approach both to legal and illegal migration.
European Alternatives advocates for the implementation of these new common policies covering the following aspects:
- The establishment of a better, fairer and well-structured collaboration between the EU and third-countries in the area of border controls. Read more
- The development of a common asylum policy, which is not a lower common denominator, but adopts the highest standards for asylum seekers and refugees across the Union. Read more
- The reasoning on the legitimacy of the camps, and the surveillance of the conditions in which migrants are temporarily detained. Read more
European Alternatives also wishes to be the motor of debate among all those who live in Europe on possible solutions to these issues:
- The development of new approaches to integration which move away from assimilation and multiculturalism. Read more
- The deconstruction of the discourse of nationalist right parties as regards immigration and security issues
The Stockholm Programme
The Stockholm Programme is the five-year plan proposed by the European Council and adopted by the European Commission relating to the Justice and Home Affairs acquis for the 2010-2014 period. This document, developed under the Swedish Presidency of the European Council in 2009, addresses new forms of cooperation and integration in the areas of freedom, security and justice in the European Union.
One of the main priorities identified by the European Council addresses the need to elaborate a EU migration policy which will be responsive to the priorities and needs of Member States while guaranteeing the respect of migrants’ rights in collaboration with third countries. The EU should work on building a society open to all cultures in which migrants are well integrated and able to take full advantage of their potential. Following recent events issues such as the consolidation of a common, legally safe procedure for asylum seekers have to be dealt with without further delay.
The Lisbon Treaty introduces the possibility of the European Citizens’ Initiative. The treaty provides that “not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties”. Online signatures will be considered valid. The current proposals are that signatures will have to come from a minimum of 9 EU countries for the initiative to be valid.
The way forward
European Alternatives is looking to collaborate with partner organisations and individual activists around Europe to organise a series of transnational deliberative consultations aimed at producing a join European demand and setting up the necessary coalition to carry through that demand.