Concerns regarding the implementation of the Action Plan of the Hague Programme
Six Church and Christian organisations working in the field of migration and asylum today sent a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Council, highlighting concerns regarding the implementation of the Action Plan of the Hague Programme which is due to be endorsed at the European Council meeting from 16-17 June in Brussels.
These six organisations – Caritas Europa, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), the Churches’ Commission for Migration in Europe (CCME), the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the Quaker Council for European Affairs – welcome efforts to establish a common migration policy and asylum system across the EU whilst highlighting the importance of orientating any such policy around the inalienable dignity and rights of the human being. An evaluation of the implementation of the existing rules and procedures in this policy area should be taken as a necessity.
Establishing a common EU procedure and uniform status for persons benefiting from asylum or subsidiary protection before 2010 are positive steps and ones which should be built upon through agreement “on more ambitious common standards than those minimum standards” which have been the norm in past directives. The organisations call for the European Charter of Fundamental Rights to become legally binding as soon as possible in order to guarantee rights of asylum on the EU level. Detention of asylum seekers must be avoided.
Furthermore, they also emphasise the necessity of a fully developed labour migration policy which takes account of both regular and irregular migration, qualified and unqualified labour, especially in light of the aims of the Lisbon Agenda. The six organisations criticise the criminalisation of irregular workers and the possible criminalisation or prosecution of Churches, Church-organisations or NGOs who provide them with humanitarian assistance.
They call for increased protection in this area, along with particular attention and protection for those migrants who have been victims of exploitation or traffickinged. They further insist that the dignity and the human rights of irregular migrants are respected and observed. As regards a common policy on returns and removal, the six organisations call for a comprehensive and fair policy which does not remove migrants after a five year legal stay and which supports those who wish to voluntarily return to their country of origin.
An integration policy, although not within the jurisdiction of the EU, should be developed to assist the Member States in realising integration as a reciprocal process for both the migrant and the host society. Better public understanding and participation would go some way to responding to the needs of an increasingly diverse society.
- Peter Verhaeghe, Migration Officer, Caritas Europa +32 (0) 2 235 03 96
- Doris Peschke, General Secretary, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe +32 (0)2 234 68 00
- Henrik Lesaar, Legal Adviser, COMECE +32 (0)2 235 05 13
- Mariette Grange, Advocacy Officer, International Catholic Migration Commission +41 (0)22 919 10 20
- Jan Stuyt, S.J. Regional Director, JRS +32 (0)2 250 32 20
- Liz Scurfield, Joint representative, Quaker Council for European Affairs +32 (0)2 234 30 63