Immigration is a recurring issue in European political discourse. In addition, 80% of the
Europeans consider that their government should make the struggle against clandestine
immigration a priority, according to the Eurobarometer in February 2002. However, as to
concrete decisions, there has been no significant parallel progress: five proposals have been
blocked for several months. Each country encounters different migratory scenarios and
adopts different political strategies to deal with them, making compromise a more difficult
task than that which was set out in the Treaty of Amsterdam. Nevertheless, there are no
political alternatives for European harmonization, given that the EU is progressively
becoming a unified space of common social rights and open internal borders.
In the scope of immigration control, the harmonization of visa and asylum regulations have
already been widely implemented through the Schengen and Dublin Agreements. As to
immigrant integration, there are also definite tendencies towards the development of a
common legal space, especially due to legal decisions of the European Court.
Pressures derived from an imminent European enlargement to harmonize regulations and
procedures have had an impact, though they have not completely eliminated different
national points of view. This has occurred especially in Southern and Eastern European
countries. The existence of different legislations to confront the immigration issue is
bringing about secondary migration phenomena in the Union itself.
In the European Council at Seville, some imprecise compromises were adopted and some
objectives to deal with the development of a common policy for asylum and immigration
were established. Its conclusions include the objective of carrying out a systematic
evaluation of the relations with third countries that do not collaborate in the struggle against
illegal immigration. Among the concrete measures to be adopted in the next six months, we
should highlight the approval of repatriation programs, the implementation of joint
operations on exterior borders, and the creation of a network of liaison civil servants for
immigration in the Member States.