If EMU is Muddled, What More EU Migration Policy?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 7/01/2011 12:01:00 AM
If you think discord in economic coordination and monitoring are rife in the EU--Greece, Ireland and Portugal are really forcing these issues--what more migration? A side effect of the various uprisings in the Middle East is a steady stream of migrants heading northward to find better lives. This in addition to folks from newly integrated EU states and those from farther afield seeking opportunities in wealthier countries (like myself, for instance) and you have similar issues of discord among EU nations. Those on the Mediterranean are obviously sensitive as literally first ports of call. Wealthier countries relay their wariness about welcoming "different" folks. Newer members are perhaps not as vigilant about patrolling EU borders since migrants just transit through them. And so on and so forth.

The end result of many different countries having uncoordinated migration policies and a lot of punting on the issue at the European Union itself is as you'd imagine. IP Global, the German Council of Foreign Relations, offers a fairly downbeat assessment:
There are enormous challenges to be addressed before the EU has a coherent and legitimate migration policy. First, the approach to the legislation is still too piecemeal. Measures are needed on all aspects of labor migration, not just the highly skilled. The Commission proposed a general labor migration direction in 2001, but it was rejected by member states and withdrawn. Various other measures have been suggested and even passed, such as a measure on migrant workers’ rights and another on seasonal workers—but overreaching structures are lacking. Second, the legislation that has been adopted tends to have far too many coercive elements such as integration conditions as a mechanism to restrict family reunification or long periods of detention permissible for the purpose of expelling a person. Detention conditions vary among member states. In one case that went to court in Luxembourg, a man was held in a high security prison for more than 18 months while the authorities sought to expel him. Third, the measures adopted in the asylum field have not resulted in the convergence of protection for individuals in similar situations in different member states, and are already under sharp criticism by the European Court of Human Rights for their failure to protect people from destitution and provide them with legal remedies. In short, the system is neither coherent nor effective, and it is not fully in compliance with human rights standards.

One may well ask why this situation has occurred after more than 12 years of developing the system. One possible answer is that there has been too much influence on the process by a small group of member state officials from interior ministries with a specifically exclusionary vision of the movement of people across borders. Away from the tempering influence of other ministries at the national level, specifically foreign affairs and social affairs ministries, these officials at the EU level have succeeded in promoting coercive measures which perhaps would not have succeeded at the national level.
Given European demographic trends, even more strenuous debate over the "fourth freedom" of migration after those for the movement of goods, services and investment is inevitable.