IMMIGRATION IN EUROPE

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.

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