European Union heads of government adopted today the Immigration and Asylum Pact. 16 October 2008. "This pact was adopted unanimously. Europe now has a real immigration policy," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters, after hosting an E.U. summit in Brussels.
The Immigration and Asylum Pact which has angered rights groups for focussing on skilled workers rather than refugees.
The European Comission was now being tasked to bring the Pact into force and funds were already being allocated for this purpose. The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum – a document of political intent but not binding laws – sets out principles for managing migration, fighting illegal immigration and forming partnerships with countries people leave or travel through to get to Europe.
It also seeks to make border controls more effective while building better asylum policy, with refugees increasingly obliged to apply for asylum status from outside the E.U.
"This common policy must be founded on proper management of migratory flows, in the interests not only of the host countries but also of the countries of origin and of the migrants themselves," the leaders said in a statement.
They pledged to make the pact the subject of an annual debate.
The pact seeks to improve the management of legal immigration, tighten controls on illegal immigrants and construct a common asylum policy. EU nations would base legal immigration on workers or professionals whose skills are tailored to their particular labour needs, favouring those who would stay in their countries long term.
The new guidelines for managing immigration enclose an agreement on a Blue Card scheme aimed at attracting highly skilled workers to Europe. The "Blue Card", which takes its name from the EU flag and whose name resonates with the US "green card", would entitle highly qualified third-country nationals to a series of rights in any EU nation.