The EU and its Members States should take a more coordinated and flexible approach to external migration policy to help Europe address its demographic challenges and deliver economic growth over the decades ahead, the House of Lords EU Committee has said.
In its report, “The EU’s Global Approach to Migration and Mobility”, the Committee considers the Commission’s 2011 Communication on the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (‘the GAMM’) and the UK’s participation in EU asylum and immigration measures.
The report points out that as the UK and other countries in Europe face an ageing population and a declining birth rate, legal third country immigration into the EU will be needed to keep the economy on track and retain Europe’s competitiveness in a global market.
The Committee says that while Member States should retain primary responsibility for their own migration policies, the EU also has a role to play.
Noting that the majority of irregular migrants enter the EU with authorisation and then overstay their visas, rather than crossing the EU’s external border by boat or land routes illegally, the report asks the EU to adopt a more effective approach in preventing irregular migration, including the conclusion of EU Readmission Agreements.
The Committee urges the UK Government to fully participate in such agreements.
The report also acknowledges the role the EU can play in refugee management and building capacity in the asylum systems of countries of origin and transit, welcoming the recent Regional Protection Programme that has been established for Syria and the neighbouring countries.
The Committee calls for vigorous evaluation of Mobility Partnerships with third countries.
The report also calls for greater joined-up working in the formulation and implementation of migration policy. It argues that migration policy cannot and should not be the sole concern of interior ministries. A more integrated approach with development and foreign affairs ministries – at the national and EU level – would help maximise the EU’s development aims, the report says.
The reduction of trade barriers with non-EU countries and measures to facilitate remittances, mitigate the effects of brain drain and assist Diasporas to contribute to their countries of origin would also be beneficial, the Committee says.
The international students in the UK, the Committee says, should not be subjected to the Government’s policy objective of reducing net migration. “Failure to do so will impair both the quality of the UK’s higher education sector and its ability to attract talented individuals in an increasingly competitive global market. It will also damage one of the UK’s primary invisible exports and the long-terms benefits of fostering international relationships in this area,” Lord Hannay of Chiswick, Chairman of the Home Affairs, Health and Education Sub-Committee, says.
He reminds Europe that as its population ages, “young and ambitious legal immigrants” will be needed to come into the EU to ensure it can deliver economic growth and remain competitive.
Noting that the UK has refrained from opting in to the majority of EU legal and irregular migration measures, Lord Hannay says: “We have consistently urged the Government to play a full part in EU asylum and immigration policies and believe that a more constructive cooperation with the Schengen Area could provide benefits for the UK. We are clear that the free movement of EU citizens is fundamental to the UK’s continued membership of the EU.”