Migration and Asylum in External Relations

Migration is at the heart of the political debate in Europe and, for a few years now, is one of the strategic priorities in the external relations of the Union. Carefully managed, it can be a positive factor for growth and success of both the Union and the countries concerned.

Following the entry into force of the Amsterdam treaty, the Tampere and the Hague European Councils and, more recently, the Brussels European Council, which adopted the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, have become the main reference and building blocks for a comprehensive migration and asylum policy. With the political framework in place, concerns related to migration and asylum issues have become firmly part of the external relations policy and cooperation programmes with third countries. The integration of concerns related to migration and asylum within the external policy and EU programmes forms part of a comprehensive effort to address migration issues in a coherent and efficient way at EU level.

Increasingly, the EU is placing migration systematically on the agenda of its political, economic and social dialogues with third countries. Such dialogues address various dimensions of the migration phenomenon, such as the migration and development nexus, curbing irregular migration, readmission, human trafficking, integration of migrants in receiving societies, etc.

As regards cooperation, the EU is addressing migration and asylum through various cooperation instruments. National and regional programmes, such as MEDA, Tacis or Aeneas (financial and technical assistance to third countries in the field of migration) provide the core funding for addressing the root causes of migration and a number of migration and asylum projects (including border management). For the years of 2007-2010, the Thematic Programme for Cooperation on Migration and asylum has allocated a budget of € 205 million. In case of emergency situations related to migration, a special budget of € 20 million has been allocated. The second phase of the programme in the period 2010-2013 envisages additional funds of €175 million.

A specific programme existed for Uprooted People in Asia and Latin America (AUP). Even though this programme has ended, these regions keep receiving EU attention. The support is now channelled through national programmes.