Illegal immigration in EU Aug03


France, Germany and the UK are currently responsible for processing and returning more than half of the illegal immigrants in the EU. However, it is alleged that illegal immigration, initiated and sustained by an established network of gangs, working for profit, is facilitated by the inadequate border control in southern European countries (Greece, Italy and Spain).


A recently adopted European Commission Report confirms that the burden of coping with illegal immigration is not sufficiently shared between Member States and that allocated budgets are inadequate for the size of the task.


The EU Treaty mentions burden sharing in terms of welcoming refugees but the Commission suggests that this principle should now be extended to cover all areas of asylum and immigration policy. This change could secure a vast increase in the budget to tackle illegal immigration, taking effect in 2007.


The Commission’s plans for border controls, including a trial project established by the Common Border Practitioners Unit, has led to the establishment of 17 co-ordination centres across the EU. The Commission believes that these centres could form the backbone of an EU Common Border Guard. But how would such a network be extended to cover an enlarged EU of 25 Member States? And how could we be sure of the quality of vigilance in the accession countries where there continues to be a problem of poor governance and civic corruption?


Repatriation of illegal immigrants remains a matter for individual Member States. The Commission urges co-ordination and EU minimum standards for assessment and return procedures with clear guidelines on readmission agreements with third countries.


The current UN Refugee Agency Report states that in the last 12 months, the number of claimants has fallen by 17% in the EU and by 32% in the UK. However, the UK continues to attract more refugees than most other countries in the EU.


Why is the asylum system failing in the EU? Four reasons have been suggested:-

  1. Financial aid for refugees is badly distributed

  2. Human traffickers encourage many who would not otherwise come alone

  3. Many asylum seekers do not qualify as refugees – they are economic migrants

  4. Many are granted asylum although they do not require protection of the international community


The UK government has suggested two possible solutions:-

  1. Establish “regional” centres in the refugees' “home” state where the claimant can reside ‘under effective protection’ guaranteed by the EU so that the application can be processed.

  2. Provide for “transit camps” just outside the EU border for refugee claims to be processed by the relevant Member State government.


These measures would substantially reduce the cost of processing asylum seekers, the cost of housing them in detention centres, and reduce social tension in Britain.


The EU, with an ageing population, needs nearly 100m more workers over the next 5 years. Like the USA & Canada, the EU should offer country quotas worldwide for clearly specified skills to regularise immigration. Such a programme would minimise illegal immigration and social concerns for the indigenous European citizens. Such a programme would allow the EU to have a thriving economy as well as social stability based on a working multicultural knowledge society.