25th Jun 2017

Sweden to push for more transparent EU migration rules

  • Victims of illegal trafficking and migration should come to the forefront in EU's policies in the next five years (Photo: nobordernetwork)

The upcoming Swedish EU presidency will push for more transparent rules governing migration when it begins negotiations on a five-year justice and home affairs programme later this year, Europe minister Cecilia Malmstrom said on Monday.

"We want to focus more on the individual as a victim and to have clear and transparent rules on migration," Ms Malmstrom told journalists after presenting the priorities of the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, due to start on 1 July.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

She said the commission's proposals in this area, put forward earlier this month, were "a good starting point" for discussions, although they have been strong criticised by some civil liberties group for potentially leading to a "surveillance society."

But Ms Malmstrom admitted that it will be a challenge to strike the right balance between "the more repressive measures taken under police cooperation" and safeguarding civil rights.

The five-year policy framework, dubbed the "Stockholm programme" is expected to be adopted by EU leaders at a summit in December, after talks with the European Parliament in autumn.

Civil liberties watchdog Statewatch has criticised the proposals, saying they focus too much on data-sharing and on creating an EU-wide "information system architecture."

"What is new is the clear aim of creating the surveillance society and the database state. Future generations, for whom this will be a fully developed reality, will look back at this era and rightly ask, why did you not act to stop it," Statewatch director Tony Bunyan said.

On irregular immigration, the commission's proposals echo the pressure from the EU's southern states – facing big flows of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean in perilous conditions - to have other member states help shoulder their burden and to tighten up the borders.

The bloc's external borders agency, Frontex, would be given a larger budget and more power in patrolling the EU's borders to prevent both human trafficking and irregular immigration.

Italy's centre-right government led by Silvio Berlusconi has put the issue at the centre of its ruling platform and has already taken some controversial measures, such as returning migrants to Libya, where they have no protection from abuses and crimes.

EU leaders last week asked the commission to come up with concrete proposals by October on how to tackle irregular immigration and underlined the need for "strengthened border control operations coordinated by FRONTEX, clear rules of engagement for joint patrolling and the disembarkation of rescued persons, and increased use of joint return flights."

In a policy paper drafted before the publication of the commission proposals, the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies, a centre-right think-tank, deplored the "substantial concessions" to member states in the drafting process of commission proposals.

"The resulting legal outcomes are therefore minimum standards allowing for a large degree of exceptionalism by national authorities and at times hardly compatible with fundamental rights. This statement especially applies to policy measures aiming at establishing a common European asylum system," the policy paper reads.

The think-tank also criticises the commission for adopting a "criminalised perspective on migration" and for promoting the false idea that "electronic technical capabilities in the field of security" are a "technical fix for social problems."

"This is a false idea that leads to the stigmatisation of groups of individuals in communities based on the collection and use of their personal data. The ability to create databases that manipulate large amounts of personal data to search for persons with certain characteristics leads to racial and religious profiling, which violates the non-discrimination obligations contained in the Charter of Fundamental Rights," it notes.

Brussels outlines justice priorities for next 5 years

The European Commission on Wednesday presented the priorities it would like the EU to focus on in the justice area for the next five years, including increased security cooperation and improved immigration management.

Border management going virtual

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels are set to endorse new border control measures, while the head of a Tallinn-based EU agency predicts a future where border management goes virtual.


EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.


Why Schengen deserves to be saved

Far-right parties around Europe have managed to turn the passport-free Schengen area into a game of political hot potato despite its numerous benefits.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit