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Establishment of the Visa Information System – Stage 1

Establishment of the Visa Information System – Stage 1

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Establishment of the Visa Information System – Stage 1

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Establishment of the Visa Information System (VIS) – Stage 1

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2004/512/EC of 8 June 2004 establishing the Visa Information System (VIS).

Summary

The Visa Information System (VIS) is based on a centralised architecture. It consists of a central information system, the “Central Visa Information System” (CS-VIS), of an interface in each Member State, the “National Interfaces” (NI-VIS) that provide the connection to the relevant central national authorities of the respective Member States, and of a communication infrastructure between the Central Visa Information System and the National Interfaces.

The Commission is responsible for developing the:

  • Central Visa Information System;
  • National Interface in each Member State;
  • communication infrastructure between the Central Visa Information System and the National Interfaces.

The national infrastructures are adapted by the Member States.

The measures to be developed by the Commission are adopted in accordance with the advisory procedure of the comitology Decision 1999/468/EC for matters relating to the:

  • design of the physical architecture of the system;
  • technical aspects that have a bearing on the protection of personal data;
  • technical aspects that have serious financial implications for the budgets of the Member States or that have serious technical implications for the national systems of the Member States;
  • development of security requirements, including biometric aspects.

Other necessary measures are adopted using the management procedure of the comitology Decision.

The Commission will submit a yearly progress report to the European Parliament and the Council, starting in the year following the signing of the contract for the development of the VIS.

Context

The Seville European Council on 21 and 22 June 2002 considered the establishment of a common identification system for visa data a top priority and called for its introduction as soon as possible. In response to this request, the Commission presented a feasibility study in May 2003. The Council welcomed the study in June 2003 and invited the Commission to continue its preparatory work on the development of the VIS.

This Decision constitutes the required legal basis to allow for the inclusion of the necessary appropriations for the development of the VIS in the general budget of the EU. The Decision follows from the European Council in Thessaloniki on 19 and 20 June 2003, which deemed that orientations should be determined with regard to the planning for the development of the VIS, together with the appropriate legal basis permitting its establishment and the engagement of the necessary financial means.

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2004/512/EC

5.7.2004

OJ L 231 of 15.6.2004

Related Acts

Commission Decision 2008/602/EC of 17 June 2008 laying down the physical architecture and requirements of the national interfaces and of the communication infrastructure between the central VIS and the national interfaces for the development phase [Official Journal L 194 of 23.7.2008].

The Annex to this Decision establishes the design of the physical architecture and the network requirements for the NI-VIS and for the communication infrastructure between the NI-VIS and the CS-VIS.

VIS Regulation

VIS Regulation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about VIS Regulation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

VIS Regulation

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) Noof the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation) [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The purpose of the Visa Information System (VIS) is to improve the implementation of the common visa policy, consular cooperation and consultations between the central visa authorities by:

  • facilitating the visa application procedure;
  • preventing ‘visa shopping’;
  • facilitating the fight against fraud;
  • facilitating checks at external border crossing points and in the national territories;
  • assisting in the identification of persons that do not meet the requirements for entering, staying or residing in the national territories;
  • facilitating the application of the Dublin II Regulation for determining the EU country that is responsible for the examination of a non EU-country national’s asylum application and for examining said application;
  • contributing to the prevention of threats to EU countries’ internal security.

In specific cases, the national authorities and Europol may request access to data entered into the VIS for the purpose of preventing, detecting and investigating terrorist and criminal offences. The procedures for consultations under such circumstances are laid down in Council Decision 2008/663/JHA. These consultations are carried out via central access points in the participating countries and by Europol, who verify the requests and ensure conformity with the above decision.

Only the following categories of data are recorded in the VIS:

  • alphanumeric data * on the applicant and on the visas requested, issued, refused, annulled, revoked or extended;
  • photographs;
  • fingerprint data;
  • links to previous visa applications and to the application files of persons travelling together.

Access to the VIS:

  • for entering, amending or deleting data, is reserved exclusively to duly authorised staff of the visa authorities;
  • for consulting data, is reserved exclusively to duly authorised staff of the visa authorities and authorities competent for checks at the external border crossing points, immigration checks and asylum, and is limited to the extent the data is required for the performance of their tasks.

The authorities with access to VIS must ensure that its use is limited to that which is necessary, appropriate and proportionate for carrying out their tasks. Furthermore, they must ensure that in using VIS, the visa applicants and holders are not discriminated against and that their human dignity and integrity are respected.

Entering of data by the visa authorities

Once an application is found admissible as set out in the Visa Code, the visa authority creates the application file by entering into the VIS a set of data listed in this regulation, such as the applicant’s personal and travel details provided in the application form, photograph and fingerprints.

Where a decision has been taken to issue a visa, the visa authority adds other relevant data, including the type of visa, the territory in which the visa holder is entitled to travel, the period of validity, the number of entries allowed in the territory and the duration of the authorised stay.

Additional data must also be entered if the visa authority representing another EU country discontinues the examination of an application as well as when a decision has been taken to refuse, annul or revoke a visa, or to extend the validity period of a visa.

Use of the data by the visa and other competent authorities

The competent visa authority may consult the VIS for the purpose of examining applications and decisions to issue, refuse, extend, annul or revoke a visa, or to shorten a visa’s validity period. It is authorised to carry out searches with some of the data included in the application form and the application file. If the search indicates that data on the applicant is recorded in the VIS, the visa authority will be given access to the application file and linked application files.

For prior consultation, the country responsible for examining the application must transmit any consultation requests with the application number to the VIS, indicating the country or countries to be consulted. The VIS will forward the request to the country concerned, which will, in turn, send the response to the VIS, which will then forward the response to the requesting country.

For statistical and reporting purposes, the visa authorities are authorised to consult data that does not allow for the identification of the applicant.

The authorities responsible for carrying out checks at external borders and within the national territories have access to search the VIS with the number of the visa sticker together with fingerprints. They may search the VIS for the purpose of verifying the identity of the person and/or the authenticity of the visa and/or whether the person meets the requirements for entering, staying in or residing within the national territories. If, based on this search, data on the visa holder is found in the VIS, the relevant authorities may consult certain data in the application file.

For identifying a person who may not or may no longer fulfil the required conditions, the competent authorities have access to search with fingerprint data. If that person’s fingerprints cannot be used or the search with the fingerprints fails, the relevant authorities may search the VIS with the name, sex, date and place of birth and/or information taken from the travel document. These may be used in combination with the nationality of the person.

Asylum authorities have access to search the VIS with fingerprint data, but solely for the purposes of determining the EU country responsible for the examination of an asylum application and of examining an asylum application. However, if the fingerprints of the asylum seeker cannot be used or the search fails, the authorities may carry out the search with the data set out above.

Each application file is stored in the VIS for a maximum of five years. Only the country responsible has the right to amend or delete data it has transmitted to the VIS.

Operation and responsibilities

After a transitional period, during which the Commission is in charge, the Management Authority will be responsible for the operational management of the Central VIS and the national interfaces. In addition, ensuring a communication infrastructure between these two, the Management Authority will be in charge of the supervision, security and the coordination of relations between the participating countries and the service provider. The Management Authority will also ensure that the VIS is operated in accordance with the VIS Regulation and that only duly authorised staff has access to data processed in the VIS.

The VIS is connected to the national system of each country via the country’s national interface. Participating countries designate a national authority that is connected to the national interfaces and that provides access to VIS by the relevant authorities.

Each country is responsible for:

  • the development, organisation, management, operation and maintenance of its national system;
  • ensuring the security of data before and during transmission to its national interface and, to this end, adopting a security plan;
  • the management and arrangements for access by duly authorised staff of its competent national authorities to the VIS in accordance with this regulation;
  • bearing the costs incurred by its national system.

Data in the VIS is not to be communicated to third countries or international organisations unless indispensable for attesting a third-country national’s identity in individual cases. The communication may be made when a set of conditions are met, with due respect to the rights of refugees and persons requesting international protection.

Data protection

The responsible country provides the persons concerned with information on the identity and contact details of the controller responsible for the processing of the data, the purposes for which the data is processed within the VIS, the categories of the recipients of the data, the period of retention of the data and the right to access, correct and delete the data. In addition, the country must inform the persons concerned of its obligation to collect the data. Any person is entitled to receive information on how to bring an action or a complaint before the competent authorities or courts of the country concerned if he/she is refused the right of access to, or the right of correction or deletion of, data relating to him/her.

Each EU country must require a National Supervisory Authority, established in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC, to monitor the lawfulness of the processing of personal data by that country. The European Data Protection Supervisor will monitor the activities of the Management Authority.

Start of operations

The VIS will become operational once the technical implementation of the Central VIS, the national interfaces and the communication infrastructure have been completed and a comprehensive test of the VIS has been carried out. The countries must also have taken the required steps for the collection and transmission of data in a first region, followed by a gradual roll-out in other regions.

As a Schengen instrument, this regulation applies to EU countries with the exception of the United Kingdom and Ireland, which will not be bound by the regulation. Denmark has decided to implement the regulation. The regulation also applies to Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Key terms used in the act
  • Alphanumeric data: data represented by letters, digits, special characters, spaces and punctuation marks.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 767/2008

2.9.2008

OJ L 218 of 13.8.2008

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 810/2009

5.10.2009

OJ L 243 of 15.9.2009

Related Acts

Commission Decision 2010/260/EU of 4 May 2010 on the Security Plan for the operation of the Visa Information System [Official Journal L 112 of 2.2.2010].

Commission Decision 2010/49/EC of 30 November 2009 determining the first regions for the start of operations of the Visa Information System (VIS) [Official Journal L 23 of 27.1.2010].

Commission Decision 2009/876/EC of 30 November 2009 adopting technical implementing measures for entering the data and linking applications, for accessing the data, for amending, deleting and advance deleting of data and for keeping and accessing the records of data processing operation in the Visa Information System [Official Journal L 315 of 2.12.2009].

Commission Decision 2009/756/EC of 9 October 2009 laying down specifications for the resolution and use of fingerprints for biometric identification and verification in the Visa Information System [Official Journal L 270 of 15.10.2009].

Commission Decision 2009/377/EC of 5 May 2009 adopting implementing measures for the consultation mechanism and the other procedures referred to in Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and the Council of 9 July 2008 concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation) [Official Journal L 117 of 12.5.2009].
The implementing measures for consultations and requests for documents via the VIS are set out in the annex to this decision. Currently, the Schengen Consultation Network (VISION) is used as the communication network for consultations on visas. Once the VIS becomes operational, the VIS Mail mechanism may be used in parallel to transmit messages:

  • relating to consular cooperation;
  • relating to requests for any supporting documents linked to an application;
  • indicating that inaccurate data has been processed in the VIS;
  • indicating that the applicant has acquired the nationality of an EU country.

Once all Schengen visa issuing posts are connected to the VIS, the VIS Mail mechanism shall be the sole communication network for exchanging messages via the VIS.

European Asylum Support Office

European Asylum Support Office

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Asylum Support Office

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The institutions bodies and agencies of the union

European Asylum Support Office

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office.

Summary

This regulation establishes the European Asylum Support Office. The function of the office is to strengthen European Union (EU) countries’ practical cooperation on asylum, to support EU countries whose asylum and reception systems are under particular pressure and to enhance the implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

Support for practical cooperation

The European Asylum Support Office is responsible for facilitating exchanges of information and for identifying and pooling best practice on asylum matters in general. More specifically, the office is responsible for activities relating to the gathering of information concerning countries of origin of asylum seekers. This includes the development of a portal, as well as analysing and reporting on country-of-origin information.

In addition, the office is to provide support for the transfers (“relocation”) within the Union of persons under international protection, for the training of relevant parties and for the external dimension of CEAS.

Support for EU countries under particular pressure

The European Asylum Support Office is to assist EU countries that find their asylum and reception systems under specific and disproportionate pressure due, in particular, to their geographical or demographic situations or due to the sudden arrival of large numbers of non-EU country nationals that need international protection. In order to assess the needs of such EU countries, the office should:

  • gather information relating to emergency measures that help dealing with situations of particular pressure;
  • identify and analyse information on the structures and staff, assistance in managing asylum cases, and asylum capacities of EU countries;
  • analyse data on arrivals of large numbers of non-EU country nationals that might put a country under particular pressure.

Upon request, the office is to support EU countries by coordinating the asylum support teams, as well as actions relating to the initial analysis of applications for asylum and to the rapid set up of suitable reception facilities.

Implementation of CEAS

The European Asylum Support Office is to contribute to the implementation of CEAS, in particular by coordinating the exchanges of information between relevant stakeholders on the implementation of the instruments of the Union’s asylum acquis. For this purpose, the office may establish databases covering asylum instruments at national, European and international levels. In addition, it is to gather information on the processing of asylum applications and on legislation and legislative developments concerning asylum in EU countries.

The office is also responsible for drawing up an annual report on the European asylum situation and may draft technical documents, such as guidelines and operating manuals, on the implementation of EU asylum instruments.

Asylum support teams

Upon request for assistance by one or more EU countries under particular pressure, the European Asylum Support Office may coordinate the deployment of one or more asylum support teams to their territories for an appropriate period of time. These teams are to provide technical assistance, such as interpreting services, information on countries of origin and know-how on managing asylum cases.

The office will not only establish an asylum intervention pool made up of experts, from which the teams are drawn up, but will also draw up a list of interpreters. EU countries are to contribute to this pool with experts from their national pools and to assist in the identification of interpreters. An operating plan is to be established.

A national contact point is to be set up in each EU country for communication on issues concerning the asylum support teams. A Union contact point for coordination is created from one or more experts of the office.

Administration and management

The European Asylum Support Office is established in the form of a regulatory agency. It will be fully operational by 19 June 2011.

The planning and monitoring authority of the office is its management board. It consists of one member from each EU country, of two members from the Commission and of a non-voting member from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The term of office of management board members is three years, renewable.

The management board appoints the executive director from candidates selected via an open competition. The executive director is responsible for managing and acting as the legal representative of the office. The term of office of the executive director is five years, renewable once for three years.

The management board may set up an executive committee from among eight of its members, including the Commission representative, to assist it and the executive director.

The office may set up working parties composed of experts in the field of asylum. The Commission is an ex officio member of the working parties.

A consultative forum is to be established for cooperation between the office and relevant civil society organisations and other competent bodies working on asylum policy at local, regional, national, European or international level. The forum functions as a platform for information exchanges, for pooling knowledge, as well as for providing expertise and advice on issues related to asylum. It is coordinated by the executive director.

The revenues of the office mainly consist of a contribution from the general budget of the EU and of contributions from EU (voluntary) and associate countries.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 439/2010

18.6.2010

OJ L 132, 29.5.2010

Related Acts

Decision 2010/762/EU of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council of 25 February 2010 determining the seat of the European Asylum Support Office [Official Journal L 324 of 9.12.2010].
This decision establishes the seat of the European Asylum Support Office at Valetta Harbour, Malta.

Visa Code

Visa Code

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Visa Code

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Visa Code

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code).

Summary

The aim of the regulation is to establish the conditions and procedures for issuing visas for short stays in (maximum of three months during any six-month period) and transit through the Member States of the European Union (EU) and the associated states applying the Schengen acquis in full. It applies to nationals of third countries that must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external border of the Union, as listed in Regulation (EC) No 539/2001.

In addition, the regulation lists the third countries whose nationals must hold an airport transit visa for passing through the international transit areas of Member State airports (Annex IV). In urgent cases of mass influx of illegal immigrants, any Member State may extend this requirement to nationals of other third countries.

Procedures and conditions for issuing visas

The Member State that is the sole or the main destination of the visit is responsible for examining the visa application. If the main destination cannot be determined, the Member State of entry into the Union is competent. In the case of transit, the Member State through which the transit takes place or, in case of multiple transits, the Member State of first transit is responsible. Generally, the visa application must be submitted to the consulate of the Member State concerned.

Member States may establish bilateral arrangements for representing each other for the purpose of collecting visa applications or issuing visas. They may also cooperate through co-location or a common application centre.

A visa application may be lodged by the applicant or an accredited commercial intermediary at the earliest three months before the intended visit. When lodging an application, the applicant must appear in person, unless this requirement has been waived. Upon lodging an application, the following must be presented:

  • an application form, as set out in Annex I;
  • a valid travel document;
  • a photograph;
  • supporting documents as set out in Annex II, as well as proof of sponsorship and/or accommodation if requested by the Member State;
  • proof of possession of travel medical insurance, if applicable.

Apart from certain exceptions, the applicant must allow the collection of his/her fingerprints and pay a visa fee. The visa fee may be waived or reduced in individual cases, for example for cultural, foreign and development policy reasons. An external service provider may charge an additional service fee.

After verifying the admissibility of the application, the competent authority must create an application file in the Visa Information System (VIS), following the procedures set out in the VIS Regulation. A further examination of the application must be carried out to verify that the applicant fulfils the entry conditions as set out in the Schengen Borders Code, does not pose a risk of illegal immigration or a threat to the security of the Member State and intends to leave the Member State before the visa expires.

A decision on an admissible application must be taken within 15 calendar days from the date on which it was lodged. In exceptional cases, this time limit may be extended. A decision is taken on whether to issue or refuse a uniform visa or a visa with limited territorial validity or, in case of representation of another Member State, to discontinue the examination in order to transfer the application to the latter’s relevant authorities.

A uniform visa may be issued for one, two or multiple entries with a maximum validity of five years. For a transit visa (including airport transit visa), the period of validity must correspond to the time needed for the transit. A 15-day “period of grace” is usually added. In certain cases, the period of validity of a visa may be extended. Under certain circumstances, the visa may also be annulled or revoked.

A uniform visa or visa with territorial validity does not automatically provide a right of entry to the visa holder.

A visa is refused if the applicant:

  • presents a false travel document;
  • gives no justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay;
  • provides no proof of sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of the stay nor for the return to his/her country of origin/residence;
  • has already exhausted the three months of the current six-month period;
  • has been issued an alert in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purpose of refusing entry;
  • is considered to be a threat to the public policy, internal security or public health of one of the Member States;
  • provides no proof of travel medical insurance, if applicable;
  • presents supporting documents or statements whose authenticity or reliability is doubtful.

The applicant must be notified of a decision to refuse, annul or revoke a visa with the standard form set out in Annex VI. Such a decision may be appealed in the Member State that took it, in accordance to its national law.

Exceptionally, a visa application may be submitted to the authority responsible for checks on persons at the external border of the Member State of destination. A visa issued at a border crossing point may allow for a stay of maximum 15 days or cover the time needed for a transit.

Application

This regulation amends the VIS Regulation and the Schengen Borders Code. It also repeals Articles 9-17 of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement and the Common Consular Instructions.

The regulation applies from 5 April 2010. Articles 32(2) and (3), 34(6) and (7), and 35(7) apply from 5 April 2011.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 810/2009

5.10.2009

OJ L 243 of 15.9.2009

Joint EU resettlement programme

Joint EU resettlement programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Joint EU resettlement programme

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Joint EU resettlement programme

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 2 September 2009 on the establishment of a joint EU resettlement programme [COM(2009) 447 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The communication concerns the resettlement of refugees from outside the European Union (EU) to one of the Member States. Resettlement is one of the durable solutions offered to refugees, whose needs for protection have already been established. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) usually acts as an intermediary in the resettlement process. The communication also addresses solidarity in migration management and EU protection to refugees worldwide.

Currently several Member States participate in resettlement on an annual or on an ad hoc basis. The European Refugee Fund (ERF) provides significant financial support to resettlement-related activities.

Nevertheless, the number of refugees resettled in the EU remains rather low and most Member States lack resettlement programmes. Furthermore, the Member States that are resettlement countries mostly set their priorities at the national level, instead of coordinating resettlement and the related external policy instruments at the EU level. In addition, the current ERF is not adaptable enough to respond to new and changing needs concerning resettlement. Consequently, joint EU action should aim at:

  • involving more Member States and enhancing their cooperation;
  • providing refugees a secure access to protection;
  • expressing solidarity towards third countries;
  • making better use of resettlement at the EU level;
  • integrating resettlement into EU external policies;
  • providing a financial incentive for Member States to resettle based on jointly defined key priorities.

A joint EU resettlement programme should be established to fully integrate resettlement in the external dimension of the EU’s asylum policy and improve its strategic use. The Communication provides the following guiding principles:

  • participation in resettlement should be voluntary for Member States;
  • EU resettlement activities should be extended;
  • the programme should be incremental and adaptable to changing circumstances;
  • all stakeholders should be able to participate (international and local NGOs, local authorities, etc.).

The main components of the programme will be the setting of common annual priorities on the basis of a consultative process and financial assistance by the ERF to Member States that “pledge” to resettle refugees according to these priorities. This will allow the financial assistance to be used more effectively. The existing resettlement expert group that meets on an ad hoc basis will be transformed into a permanent body in which all Member States and stakeholders will participate. It will carry out preparatory work for identifying the common annual priorities for the EU, exchange information on Member States’ quantitative targets and assess the specific resettlement needs. The UNHCR will be closely involved in the preparatory work by providing an assessment of worldwide resettlement needs. The common annual priorities will subsequently be established by a Commission decision using the comitology procedure. They will focus on specific geographic regions, nationalities or categories of refugees, and provide for more flexibility to respond to new or urgent needs. Consequently, financial assistance under the ERF will be available to Member States resettling refugees on the basis of the common priorities.

The programme will provide for enhanced practical cooperation and improve the effectiveness of EU external asylum policies. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which will be established in 2010 to strengthen Member State practical cooperation on asylum, will play an active role in coordinating resettlement activities. The Commission will also continue to support practical cooperation projects relating to resettlement through the ERF. As part of the programme, cooperation with the UNHCR will also be intensified to identify common priorities, maximise the strategic use of resettlement, and develop and carry out practical cooperation activities. Resettlement should form an integral part of EU external asylum policies and be well coordinated with external policies as a whole. In particular, it should be consistent with the EU Global Approach to Migration. The aim is also to integrate resettlement into the future Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs).

With the support of the EASO, the Commission will annually report on resettlement progress in the EU. In addition, a mid-term evaluation will be carried out in 2012 with all relevant stakeholders. In 2014, the joint programme will be evaluated with a view to developing it further.

Background

Resettlement has been identified as an integral element in the establishment of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), as reiterated in the European pact on immigration and asylum. In its policy plan on asylum, the Commission called for the further development of resettlement as an instrument to protect refugees.

Visa requirements for non-EU nationals

Visa requirements for non-EU nationals

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Visa requirements for non-EU nationals

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Visa requirements for non-EU nationals

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 of 15 March 2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement [See amending act(s)].

Summary

This regulation harmonises the visa * requirements for non-European Union (EU) nationals entering the EU. It provides a common list of countries whose nationals must hold a visa when crossing the external borders of a Member State (Annex I).

The regulation also lists the countries whose nationals are exempt from the visa requirement for stays of maximum three months (Annex II). In addition, the visa requirement is waived for:

  • non-EU nationals who hold a local border traffic permit;
  • non-EU school pupils who are residents of a Member State and travelling with their schools for the purpose of a school excursion;
  • recognised refugees and stateless persons who hold a travel document from the Member State in which they are residing.

Optional exceptions to the visa requirement

A Member State may grant exceptions to the visa requirement or the exemption from the visa requirement to the following persons:

  • holders of diplomatic, service/official and special passports;
  • civilian air and sea crew;
  • flight crew and attendants on emergency/rescue flights;
  • holders of laissez-passer.

The following persons may also be exempted from the visa requirement:

  • school pupils that are nationals of a non-EU country whose nationals require a visa, but that are residing in a non-EU country that is exempt from this requirement or in Switzerland or Liechtenstein, and that are travelling with their schools for the purpose of a school excursion;
  • recognised refugees and stateless persons residing in and having a travel document from a non-EU country exempt from the visa requirement;
  • holders of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) identification and movement orders, and members of the armed forces travelling within the framework of NATO or Partnership for Peace operations.

An exception to the exemption from a visa requirement may also be made for persons who perform a paid activity during their stay.

Member States must notify each other and the Commission of any exceptions they decide to apply.

Principle of reciprocity: breaches by a non-EU country

If one of the countries whose nationals are exempt from the visa requirement (Annex II) introduces such a requirement for the nationals of a Member State, that Member State must notify the Commission and the Council. This notification is then published in the Official Journal of the EU. Subsequently, the Commission is to contact the authorities of the non-EU country in question with a view to restoring visa-free travel.

Within 90 days of publication of the notification, the Commission must report to the Council. It may propose the temporary restoration of a visa requirement to the nationals of the non-EU country. The Council must take a decision on the proposal within three months. If the non-EU country abolishes the visa requirement, all temporary measures imposed on it will be terminated.

Key terms used in the act
  • Visa: an authorisation issued by a Member State or a decision taken by such a state that is required with a view to:
    1. entry for an intended stay in that Member State or in several Member States of no more than three months in total;
    2. entry for transit through the territory of that Member State or several Member States, except for transit at an airport.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 539/2001

10.4.2001

OJ L 81 of 21.3.2001

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 2414/2001

1.1.2002

OJ L 327 of 12.12.2001

Regulation (EC) No 851/2005

25.6.2005

OJ L 141 of 4.6.2005

Regulation (EC) No 1932/2006

19.1.2007

OJ L 405 of 30.12.2006

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purposes only.

LAST AMENDMENTS OF ANNEXES

Annex I and II
Regulation (EU) No 1211/2010 [OJ L 339 of 22.12.2010].

A comprehensive European migration policy

A comprehensive European migration policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A comprehensive European migration policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

A comprehensive European migration policy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 4 May 2011 – Communication on migration [COM(2011) 248 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Arab spring revolutions in 2011 resulted in a large influx of immigrants from the Southern Mediterranean, who entered the European Union (EU) illegally via the Italian and Maltese coasts. The EU took emergency measures in order to respond to this situation. However, these events have demonstrated the limited resources of the EU in immigration matters and the need for greater solidarity between the Member States in this area.

Therefore, the Commission presents initiatives aimed at establishing a comprehensive European migration policy which is better able to meet the challenges presented by migration. This policy must respect the European tradition of asylum and protection, while preventing illegal border crossings.

Several aspects of migration are addressed:

  • Crossing the borders

The EU’s external border controls must be effective and must enable a high level of security to be maintained while also facilitating the passage of persons authorised to enter the EU. The Commission intends to strengthen the existing common rules. In particular, it envisages creating a European system of border guards. It also insists on improving cooperation between national authorities and the exchange of operational information in the case of incidents at external borders, specifically via the EUROSUR system. The operational capacities of the Frontex agency must also be strengthened.

An evaluation of Member States’ application of the Schengen rules must be undertaken at EU level, with the participation of experts from Member States and Frontex, led by the Commission. The latter also intends to establish a mechanism allowing for a decision, at European level, defining which Member States would exceptionally reintroduce border controls at internal borders.

Lastly, to prevent irregular immigration, the Commission stresses the need for a balanced and effective European return policy (returning illegal immigrants who do not need international protection to their countries). It requires that all Member States transpose into their national law the Return Directive on common standards and procedures for returning illegal immigrants, and the Directive on sanctions against the employment of person staying illegally. Lastly, it recognises the effectiveness of readmission agreements with third countries, but also believes that the latter must be considered within the framework of the EU’s overall relations with the countries concerned and accompanied by incentives that help the countries to implement them.

  • Moving and living in the Schengen area

The Commission advocates better organised mobility based on cooperation (between the European agencies Frontex and Europol, and between customs authorities and national police authorities), and on new technologies. In particular, a European entry-exit system would enable data on border crossings by third country citizens to be made available to the authorities. In addition, a registered traveller programme would enable automated border control for frequent travellers.

Visa policy is also an important instrument in terms of mobility. In order to avoid abuse of visa liberalisation systems, the Commission proposes the introduction of a safeguard clause which would enable the temporary re-introduction of visa requirements for citizens from a third country benefiting from this system.

At the same time, the Union recognises that migrants constitute an indispensible workforce for the EU, both in terms of responding to labour shortages in certain areas, and in terms of providing a highly qualified workforce. It is therefore important to recognise their qualifications and to facilitate administrative procedures. The Commission hopes to make progress on the draft single permit authorising foreigners to live and work in a Member State and calls on the EU countries to transpose into their national law the Directive on the European Blue Card which facilitates the recruitment of highly qualified persons. It has also put forward proposals on seasonal workers and intra-corporate transferees. In order to provide migrants with clear and practical information, the Commission will launch an EU immigration portal this year.

Lastly, the integration of migrants into European society must respect the balance between the rights of the migrants and the law and culture of the receiving country. It requires efforts on the part of both migrants and receiving countries. Successful integration is essential for maximising the economic, social and cultural advantages of immigration, for individuals as well as societies. In July 2011, the Commission presented a European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals.

  • Common European Asylum System

The establishment of a Common European Asylum System must be completed by 2012. It aims to reduce the divergences between EU countries in the outcomes of asylum applications, and to ensure a common set of rights and procedures, as well as compliance with the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees. The European Asylum Support Office will strengthen cooperation in this area.

The Commission insists that the resettlement of refugees (permanent resettlement in a Member State of a refugee who has obtained protection in a third country) must become an integral part of European Asylum Policy.

  • Relations with third countries

Issues relating to migration must be integrated into the EU’s overall external relations. A better balance must be found between organising legal migration, combating irregular migration and maximising the mutual benefits of migration for development. The human dimension must also be strengthened through a migrant-centred approach.

With regard to the Southern Mediterranean countries, the Union has proposed a structured dialogue on migration with the aim of establishing mobility partnerships to facilitate access by their citizens to EU territory in exchange for their collaboration in managing migration flows. The Commission will also revise its Neighbourhood Policy with these countries.

Uniform format for visas

Uniform format for visas

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Uniform format for visas

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Uniform format for visas

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1683/95 of 29 May 1995 laying down a uniform format for visas [See amending acts].

Summary

A uniform format for visas

This Regulation lays down a uniform format for visas for all the Member States.

For the purposes of the Regulation, a “visa” means an authorisation given or a decision taken by a Member State, which is required for entry into its territory with a view to:

  • an intended stay in that Member State or in several Member States of no more than three months in all;
  • transit through the territory or airport transit zone of that Member State or several Member States.

The information contained in the uniform format visa must conform to:

  • the technical specifications set out in the Annex to the Regulation that lay down universally recognisable security features clearly visible to the naked eye;
  • the supplementary technical specifications, which aim to prevent counterfeiting and falsification of the visa and provide methods to fill in the visa.

If the supplementary technical specifications are to be kept secret, then they may only be communicated to:

  • the bodies responsible for printing the visas;
  • persons duly authorised by the Commission or a Member State.

Additional measures to ensure a high level of security were adopted by the Commission on 7 February 1996 and 27 December 2000.

Each Member State is to designate only one body as responsible for printing visas. It must communicate the name of this body to the Commission and the other Member States.

As provided by Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, an individual to whom a visa has been issued may, where appropriate, request corrections be made with regard to their personal details entered onto the visa.

The Commission is assisted in its work on the uniform visa format by a Committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a Commission representative.

Member States may use the uniform visa format for purposes other than those mentioned above, as long as no confusion ensues with this uniform visa.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1683/95

3.8.1995

OJ L 164 of 14.7.1995

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 334/2002

15.3.2002

OJ L 53 of 23.2.2002

Regulation (EC) No 856/2008

22.9.2008

OJ L 235 of 2.9.2008

Related Acts

Council Regulation (EC) No 333/2002 of 18 February 2002 on a uniform format for forms for affixing the visa issued by Member States to persons holding travel documents which are not recognised by the Member State drawing up the form [Official Journal L 53 of 23.2.2002].
This Regulation confines itself to a description of the uniform format in the interests of greater safety. A format for this form is annexed to the proposal. Technical specifications are established to ensure a certain level of security against counterfeiting, falsification and theft. They are secret, not published and made available only to the bodies designated by the Member States as responsible for the printing of the forms.
The uniform format for the form must be in use in the Member States no later than two years after the adoption of the above specifications.
The introduction of a new format does not affect the validity of authorisations already granted, unless the Member State concerned decides otherwise. With regard to the protection of personal data, Directive 95/46/EC has been complied with.

Strengthening the Global Approach to Migration

Strengthening the Global Approach to Migration

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strengthening the Global Approach to Migration

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Strengthening the Global Approach to Migration

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 8 October 2008 – Strengthening the Global Approach to Migration: Increasing coordination, coherence and synergies [COM(2008) 611 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication reports on the implementation of the Global Approach to Migration, presenting its future possibilities and suggesting improvements with regard to its coordination, coherence and synergies. The focus is both on the thematic development and the geographical aspects of the Global Approach.

Legal economic migration

Collaboration with third countries should be extended to address the European Union’s (EU) labour needs. Consequently, potential migrants should be informed about the rules and procedures for gaining legal access to the EU and of the risks associated with illegal migration. To this end, a migration portal will eventually be established and targeted information campaigns carried out. It is also essential that labour migrants’ access to the EU is flexible and that mobility for research or business purposes is facilitated. To this end, the Commission will aim to develop:

  • first generation mobility partnerships to use in strategic cooperation activities;
  • centres offering information and management services related to migration;
  • tools to better match jobseekers to vacancies;
  • exchanges of best practice among relevant stakeholders;
  • legal and operational measures that encourage circular migration;
  • common centres to handle visa applications.

Fighting illegal migration

In order to curb irregular immigration, the EU provides support to third countries on border management-related aspects. The Council has requested that the Commission considers broadening the role of FRONTEX in this context. Support is also provided to the fight against smuggling and trafficking of human beings, namely through international instruments, the national Anti-Trafficking Action Plans and improved legislative acts. Continuing dialogue and cooperation on these issues with partner countries has also been emphasised. In this regard, the Commission intends to support the:

  • collection of information relating to changes in migratory routes to the EU;
  • development of migration management in key third countries;
  • adoption and implementation of National Integrated Border Management Strategies in third countries;
  • setting-up of a border surveillance infrastructure under the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) through strengthened cooperation with third countries;
  • implementation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan, as well as the development of anti-trafficking strategies by regional organisations.

Migration and development

Migration and development-related work must be improved and intensified. The principles set out in the European Consensus on Development should be used to this end, in particular to tackle the root causes of migration. It is also essential that migration policies be mainstreamed into other relevant policy areas. Hence, the Commission intends to improve the:

  • systems for remittance transfers;
  • migrant groups’ and diaspora associations’ participation in EU policy-making;
  • Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) dimension, especially in relation to brain drain;
  • quality of and access to education and vocational training, as well as opportunities for and conditions of employment in high emigration areas;
  • application of the European Consensus on Development to issues related to employment, governance and demographic developments;
  • understanding of the link between climate change and migration, as well as its present and future effects.

Migratory routes

With regard to the southern migratory routes, more coherence needs to be achieved at the policy development and implementation levels. To this end, the Commission aims to promote intra-African cooperation and the development of African migration policy frameworks. At the EU-level, the Commission intends to manage EU-Africa cooperation through the EU Implementation Team on the Migration, Mobility and Employment Partnership.

The migration and development dimension should also be extended to the cooperation between the EU and its neighbouring eastern and south-eastern regions. Issues such as labour migration, remittances, return and reintegration, as well as diaspora networks should be taken into account.

Other regions, such as the Southern Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean also have an impact on the EU’s migration policy in terms of irregular as well as legal economic migration. Therefore, a differentiated approach should be taken to these regions, both bi- and multilaterally, to strengthen dialogue and cooperation.

Better governance

The Global Approach must provide a practical framework for better migration management. Hence, its coherence and efficiency must be improved. Coordination between the EU, national, regional and local levels, as well as with third countries also needs to be strengthened. Sharing information on the EU’s political objectives regarding migration must be part of the dialogue and cooperation with third countries. In addition, the EU and the Member States should make their policy profile more visible and promote the Global Approach in the different cooperation frameworks.

Finally, the overall efficiency of the Global Approach is also linked to its financing. Consequently, the Community funding instruments, as well as those of the Member States and other outside sources, must be reviewed and their use improved.

A common immigration policy for Europe

A common immigration policy for Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A common immigration policy for Europe

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

A common immigration policy for Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 17 June 2008 – A Common Immigration Policy for Europe: Principles, actions and tools [COM(2008) 359 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication puts forward 10 common principles with concrete actions for their implementation, on the basis of which the common European immigration policy will be formulated. In order to attain a coordinated and integrated approach to immigration, these principles are mainstreamed under the three main strands of European Union (EU) policy, i.e. prosperity, solidarity and security.

The common immigration policy will be delivered in partnership between the EU countries and institutions. It will be followed up regularly through a new monitoring and evaluation mechanism, including an annual assessment. Recommendations will be put forward by the European Council on the basis of a Commission report on the immigration situation at the European and national levels.

PROSPERITY: the contribution of legal immigration to the socio-economic development of the EU

Clear rules and a level playing field

The common immigration policy should be characterised by clarity, transparency and fairness and be targeted towards promoting legal immigration. Thus, the transmission to non-EU nationals of the necessary information pertaining to legal entry and stay in the EU should be ensured. In addition, the fair treatment of the non-EU nationals residing legally in the EU should be guaranteed. To implement these principles in practice, the EU and its countries should:

  • define clear and transparent rules for entry and residence in the EU;
  • provide information to potential immigrants and applicants, in particular on their rights and obligations as EU residents;
  • provide support and assistance on complying with entry and residence conditions to countries of origin as well as destination;
  • work towards a flexible Europe-wide visa policy.

Matching skills and needs

In light of the Lisbon Strategy, the promotion of economic immigration should be founded on a needs-based assessment of EU labour markets. Progress within all skill levels and sectors should be considered in relation to the knowledge-based economy and economic growth. At the same time, the principle of EU preference, the EU countries’ right to determine the volumes of admission and the immigrants’ rights should be kept in mind. In practical terms, this entails the following from the EU and its countries:

  • an assessment of current, medium-term and future (up to 2020) European labour market needs in terms of skills requirements;
  • the development of national “immigration profiles” comprising information on the labour market situation and the skills available and the gathering of comprehensive and comparable data on immigration;
  • the development of labour-matching tools and policies, the endorsement of mechanisms for the recognition of foreign qualifications and the organisation of training in countries of origin;
  • an assessment of the current and future potential for entrepreneurship among immigrants, including the legislative and operational framework for establishment, and the development of supportive measures;
  • the promotion of measures to increase employment among non-EU nationals, focusing especially on women, and the provision of alternatives to illegal employment.

Integration is the key to successful immigration

Integration as a “two-way process” should be promoted, conforming to the Common Basic Principles on Integration. The participation of immigrants should be enhanced, while social cohesion and approaches to diversity in the host societies should be developed. To this end, the EU and its countries should:

  • consolidate the EU framework for integration;
  • support the management of diversity and the evaluation of the outcomes of integration policies in EU countries;
  • promote integration programmes targeted at new immigrant arrivals;
  • ensure equal advancement opportunities in the labour market for legal non-EU workers;
  • apply social security schemes equally to immigrants and to EU nationals;
  • develop means to increase the participation of immigrants in society;
  • review Council Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification;
  • continue applying the EU asylum policy, while developing the measures further, in particular through the Policy Plan on Asylum.

SOLIDARITY: coordination between EU countries and cooperation with non-EU countries

Transparency, trust and cooperation

At the basis of the common immigration policy should be the principles of solidarity, mutual trust, transparency, responsibility and shared effort between the EU and its countries. Therefore, they should strive to:

  • improve the sharing of information in order to establish coordinated approaches where relevant;
  • develop mechanisms for monitoring the impact of national measures so as to achieve consistency within the EU;
  • establish interoperable systems to manage immigration more effectively;
  • provide for consistent communication of EU immigration policies both internally and externally.

Efficient and coherent use of available means

In the name of solidarity, the particular challenges that the external borders of certain EU countries are confronting should be considered in the financial framework. In this respect, the EU and its countries should:

  • complement national resources with the use of the framework programme on Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows (2007-13);
  • support the implementation of national policies and the ability to respond to ad-hoc situations with the mechanisms of the above programme;
  • carry out continuous evaluations on the allocation of resources through the programme to EU countries and modify these allocations when necessary;
  • develop further the management of activities that are funded from both EU and national resources in order to prevent concurrent actions.

Partnership with non-EU countries

Immigration should be an integral part of the EU’s external policies. Collaboration on all aspects of migration issues should be promoted in partnerships with non-EU countries. To this end, the EU and its countries should:

  • support the development of non-EU countries’ immigration and asylum systems, as well as legislative frameworks;
  • enhance collaboration and capacity-building in partner countries and develop mobility partnerships on labour migration;
  • employ policy instruments developed under the “Global Approach to Migration” framework, in particular to enhance cooperation with (potential) candidate countries, and guarantee the availability and effective use of financial instruments needed to implement this framework;
  • collaborate with African partners to implement the 2006 “Rabat process” and the EU-Africa Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment;
  • enhance collaboration with European Neighbourhood countries, Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia, in order to develop a shared understanding of migration challenges;
  • develop the legal and operational means to provide circular migration opportunities and collaborate with countries of origin on illegal immigration;
  • incorporate provisions on social security into association agreements with non-EU countries.

SECURITY: effective fight against illegal immigration

A visa policy that serves the interests of Europe and its partners

With a common visa policy, the entry of legal visitors into EU territory should be facilitated and internal security strengthened. This visa policy should be based on the use of new technologies and widespread information sharing between EU countries. To enable this, the EU and its countries should:

  • set up a four-tier approach with controls on visa applicants at all stages;
  • take up the uniform European Schengen visas;
  • use common consular centres for issuing visas;
  • examine the application of an electronic travel authorisation for non-EU nationals;
  • examine in more detail the visa procedures, in particular with regard to long-term visas.

Integrated border management

The protection of the Schengen area’s integrity is essential. Hence, the management of external borders should be improved and the development of border control-related policies should be aligned with that of customs controls and threat prevention. In practice, the EU and its countries should:

  • strengthen the functional aspects of the European Agency for the Management of External Borders (Frontex);
  • establish an integrated approach to border management based on an improved use of information technology and the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7);
  • carry on developing the European border surveillance system (EUROSUR);
  • collaborate with non-EU countries to develop the management of borders in relevant countries of origin and transit;
  • provide financial support for the development of the integrated European border management system;
  • develop a one-stop-shop control system at land borders through improved collaboration between EU country authorities.

Stepping up the fight against illegal immigration and zero tolerance for trafficking in human beings

A consistent policy for fighting illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings should be developed. Measures against undeclared work and illegal employment and for protecting victims of trafficking should be established. To work toward these goals, the EU and its countries should:

  • supply resources for investigating cases of smuggling and trafficking;
  • collaborate with representatives of workers and employers to tackle illegal employment;
  • develop tools to analyse risks and provide for evaluation of policies and improvement of measurement techniques;
  • support collaboration between administrations, in particular with regard to cross-checks, and assist in establishing exchanges of good practices;
  • encourage the use of biometrics as an effective tool in the fight against illegal immigration and trafficking;
  • apply fundamental human rights to non-EU nationals residing illegally in the EU;
  • provide protection and assistance to victims of trafficking, also with regard to recovery and reintegration into the society;
  • expand the legal framework to apply to new criminal phenomena in illegal immigration and sexual exploitation of children;
  • ensure the effective implementation of international instruments in the field of migrant smuggling and human trafficking in the EU.

Effective and sustainable return policies

Return policies are integral to policies on immigration. Giving legal status to illegal immigrants en masse should not be encouraged; yet, the possibility of giving legal status to individuals should not be impaired. Hence, the EU and its countries should:

  • ensure that return decisions are mutually recognised in the EU and promote collaboration between EU countries in carrying out these decisions;
  • assure that the directive on common standards for returning non-EU nationals staying illegally is implemented and applied once it has entered into force;
  • develop means to identify undocumented returnees and examine whether a European laissez-passer may be implemented for returning undocumented immigrants;
  • promote the implementation of readmission agreements by non-EU countries;
  • establish a common European approach to giving legal status to illegal immigrants.

Background

In today’s Europe without internal borders, managing immigration in a coordinated manner is of utmost importance. Since 1999, the EU has been seeking to do this under the auspices of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). However, the Commission deems that achievements to date have not been sufficient. A Europe-wide common policy is needed to provide a framework for coherent action. A vision for this policy was presented within the Commission communication “Towards a Common Immigration Policy” on 5 December 2007. Subsequently, the European Council confirmed the importance of developing a common policy and requested that the Commission submit proposals in 2008.