Immigration, data protection, security and civil rights feature among twenty measures which the Commission intends to prioritise in the field of justice and home affairs in the years to come.
Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström identified asylum seekers' rights and seasonal workers' rules as the two main priorities in terms of immigration.
Mediterranean EU countries want other members of the bloc to share the burden of dealing with refugees. Italy, Spain and Malta claim to represent EU borders and not only national frontiers in facing regular waves of immigrants coming from the southern or eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Other EU countries should help them to carry part the financial burden of hosting asylum seekers, they argue.
In the wake of an earlier proposal from the European Commission in September (EurActiv 01/09/09), Malmström will pledge to foster a burden-sharing mechanism, although concrete action in this direction is scheduled only for the long term.
In 2011, the Commission will start "to review the member states' national asylum systems and identify the issues related to capacities which will enable member states to support each other in building capacity," according to a note from the EU executive, to be published today.
A new proposal on the "joint processing of asylum applications," aimed at enforcing mutual recognition of refugees' rights, will not be presented until 2014.
Meanwhile, the Swedish commissioner will present in 2010 a legislative proposal to regulate the access of third-countries' seasonal migrants to Europe.
"Member states' decisions on the rights of third-country nationals could affect other member states, causing distortion of migratory flows," the Commission note further explains. "This is why legislative action on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for seasonal employment is needed at European level."
Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding will push forward a review of the EU Data Protection Directive, which dates back to 1995 and does not cover a number of emerging trends.
Social networks, search engines and online advertisers are likely to face new regulations to protect citizens' privacy (EurActiv 26/01/10).
Exchanging information with the US will also be at the core of the Commission's action on data protection. Negotiations are ongoing on the delicate issues of banking data (the SWIFT dossier) and air passenger data.
The Commission is aiming to seal an "umbrella agreement" with Washington on data protection, in order to define common principles to be followed in the coming years.
With a communication to be published in 2010, the Commission intends to "define a comprehensive internal security strategy aimed at strengthening cooperation in police cooperation, border management, civil protection, disaster management as well as criminal judicial cooperation," reads the EU executive's note.
The proposal sits on top of Commissioner Malmström's agenda. She also intends to criminalise identity theft, which is a growing security challenge in Europe and across the world. A legislative proposal on the matter will be presented in 2012.
Commissioner Reding has already proposed clearer rules on cross-border divorces, aimed at preventing so-called 'forum shopping' and improving citizens' rights (EurActiv 24/03/10). New rules are also in the pipeline to fight violence against women and to boost victims' rights and child protection.
However, there is no mention among her top ten priorities of improving the rights of same-sex partners. The issue had been kept at arms' length by MEPs in their first vote on the Stockholm Programme last November (EurActiv 26/11/09).
Mutual recognition of civil partnerships across EU borders thus remains no more than a mirage in Europe. "For the moment it is not a priority," an EU official said.