Tomorrow, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen will host the second meeting of the European Dialogue on Skills and Migration, at the European Business Summit. The Commissioners will officially launch the “Employers together for integration” initiative, in the presence of CEOs and other high-level representatives of several companies committed to fostering migrant integration. The initiative aims to promote employers’ efforts across the EU to support the integration of refugees and other migrants in the labour market and beyond. On this occasion Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: “Making integration work is not just a social but an economic imperative. Only a successful integration of all migrants in the EU will allow turning migration into an opportunity, both for them and for our European society and economy. The role and engagement of employers is essential for this.” Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “The forum is a sign of commitment that we unite forces with employers. Our primary task now is to tackle the challenges and to seize the opportunities of integrating refugees and asylum seekers in the labour market. It can and should be a win-win for all.” All interested companies can support the initiative and sign up here. The event will be recorded on EbS and can be followed live on the social media through #EBS2017 and #IntegrationMatters. The European Dialogue on Skills and Migration was launched in 2016 to foster exchanges between the Commission and economic and social partners, in particular employers, on labour migration related issues. For its second edition on 23 May 2017, the Dialogue focuses on the labour market integration of refugees and other legally residing migrants. More information on the Dialogue is available here. See here for more information on the Commission’s participation in the European Business Summit.
MEPs will urge EU countries on Tuesday morning to accelerate the transfer of refugees from Italy and Greece to other member states, as agreed in September 2015.
Under two Council decisions adopted in September 2015, member states committed to relocate 160,000 asylum-seekers from these two “frontline” countries by September 2017, but only 18,418 persons have been moved (as of 11 May). Following the plenary debate with Council and Commission representatives, MEPs will vote on a resolution on Thursday.
Against the background of severe migration and refugee crises in the summer of 2015, the EU adopted two emergency decisions to relocate thousands of refugees. 160,000 asylum seekers with a high chance of being granted refugee status from Italy and Greece were to be relocated by September 2017 to other member states where their applications would be processed.
In a subsequent decision approved by the Council in September 2016 – which was opposed by Parliament – member states agreed that 54,000 out of the 160,000 places could be used for the admission of Syrian refugees from Turkey, as part of the EU-Turkey migration deal, rather than from Italy or Greece.
According to UNHCR data, around 50,000 asylum-seekers are still stuck in Greece, while Italy faced a new record in 2016 with 181.436 new arrivals.
The Commission is today proposing to strengthen the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the Schengen Information System (SIS), as announced in the Communication setting out the way forward towards the achievement of an effective and sustainable EU Security Union and as reiterated in President Juncker’s State of the Union Address. Consulted 2.9 billion times in 2015, SIS is the most widely used information sharing system for border management and security in Europe. The proposed improvements will further enhance the ability of the system to fight terrorism and cross-border crime, improve border and migration management and ensure an effective information exchange between Member States to increase the security of European citizens. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: “With today’s proposals, we extend the scope of the Schengen Information System to close information gaps and improve information exchange on terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration – contributing to a stronger control of our external borders and an effective and sustainable EU Security Union. In the future, no critical information should ever be lost on potential terrorist suspects or irregular migrants crossing our external borders.” Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, said: “The Schengen Information System is central to Europe’s internal security. Today’s measures will deliver important technical and operational improvements so it’s easier to detect and identify those who wish us harm. It will also improve cooperation and information sharing between Member States and with relevant EU agencies. Much more remains to be done though: SIS is only as good as the data inputted into it. We’ll bring forward further improvements in 2017.”
The Commission is today reporting on progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and on the EU’s relocation and resettlement schemes. The Commission also adopted a fourth Recommendation today that takes stock of the progress achieved by Greece to put in place a fully functioning asylum system and sets out a process for the gradual resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece. European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Our comprehensive European approach on migration is showing positive results. We can see this in the continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and the dramatic decrease in the number of irregular migrants arriving in Greece. We also see it in the progress made by the Greek authorities in rectifying deficiencies in the country’s asylum system, which has allowed us to recommend the gradual resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece as of 15 March 2017. This will provide further disincentives against irregular entry and secondary movements, and is an important step for the return to a normally functionally Dublin and Schengen system.” Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Both Italy and Greece have made herculean efforts in recent months in managing the refugee crisis. The fact that today we close the infringement cases on the fingerprinting and registration of migrants is proof of that. This November was a record month for relocation with over 1,400 persons transferred, and Member States must build on this progress by further intensifying and sustaining their efforts. Our aim is to relocate all those in Italy and Greece who are eligible for relocation within the next year. These efforts, together with a lasting reduction in arrivals from Turkey thanks to the EU-Turkey Statement, are necessary building blocks for a gradual return to the Dublin system for Greece.“
Today, the Commission has adopted an Action Plan setting out concrete measures to improve the security of travel documents, as announced in the Communication on “Enhancing security in a world of mobility” adopted on the occasion of President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union address. The Action Plan provides clear recommendations for Member States to tackle the phenomenon of travel document fraud and outlines a comprehensive set of actions for the Commission to take. Travel document security is an important factor in the fight against terrorism and organised crime and contributes to improving border protection and migration management, paving a way towards an effective and genuine Security Union. Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Ensuring the security of travel and identity documents is an important factor in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. Today’s Action Plan proposes concrete operational measures which will allow Member States to combat travel document fraud more effectively, contributing to improving the protection of our borders, ensuring our internal security and better managing migration.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “We know that terrorists have used forged travel documents to travel undetected across the EU. Indeed, many of our security measures rely on secure travel and identity documents – such as the checks at the external border under the Schengen Border Code or behind the border against the Schengen Information System. That’s why Member States and EU agencies must work together to improve the security of travel documents and detection of travel document fraud. Taken together, these measures will help close down existing security gaps.”
Tomorrow, the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) will launch two new tools: the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre said: “The European Commission’s Agenda on migration sets out to make best use of all tools and involve all actors to tackle the challenge. High quality data is crucial for all those involved to make informed decisions. With a multitude of data sources and a user-friendly interface, the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub make finding, accessing and understanding migration data easier. The first big products of the Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography, these tools will help manage migration in all its aspects.” The tools will centralise migration related data to better understand migration flows, trends and their impact on societies across the EU. In line with the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration,the Migration Data Catalogue will classify and organise datasets in a series of predefined domains, including legal migration and integration, asylum-seekers and refugees, irregular migration and returns, as well as unaccompanied minors. Building upon the Migration Data Catalogue, the Dynamic Data Hub – a publicly available web-based application – will provide direct access to single datasets through interactive mapping. Both tools will support the European Commission and interested organisations to formulate data-driven policies. So far, data has been fragmented, which meant that available figures were not used efficiently.
On 20 and 21 October, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, will participate in the G6 meeting in Rome with Interior Ministers from Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom as well as the United States Secretary of Homeland Security. Representatives from Europol, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the European Border and Coast Guard, UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Interpol will also be present. Participants will discuss issues relating to migration, security and terrorism, and cybersecurity. In addition, Commissioner King will today participate in a joint hearing of the Committees of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on the steps taken by the European Commission to strengthen the EU’s security and its fight against terrorism. The joint hearing will be streamed live here. Commissioner King will also meet with Prefetto Franco Gabrielli, Head of the Italian Police.
Today, the European Commission will present its first progress report on the implementation of the Partnership Framework with third countries to more effectively manage migration together. Four months after the Commission proposed this new Framework under the European Agenda on Migration and its endorsement by the June European Council, which also called for its swift implementation, the EU’s new partnership approach with countries of origin and transit of migration is starting to yield results. The Partnership Framework is a forward-looking European approach to deepening cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination. Since June, under the leadership of the High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini, EU institutions and EU Member States have jointly put substantial efforts into making this new approach a success. This new approach established a results-oriented approach to mobilise and focus all EU and Member States’ tools and resources for managing migration effectively and addresses short-term solutions to immediate migration pressure, as well as deeper investment to tackling the root causes of irregular migration has started with five priority countries: Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia.