Reflecting on the French EU Presidency’s Pact on Immigration and Asylum

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The French EU Presidency’s flagship project for a European Pact on Immigration and Asylum is “far from being an initiative endowed with a truly European nature,” argue Sergio Carrera and Elspeth Guild in a September policy paper for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

According to the authors, the Pact, which provides non-legally binding guidelines for future EU immigration policy, asylum and border management, is largely inspired by current French legislation and public policies. 

“The strategy of the French government has been to bring supranational legitimacy to some of its current priorities, visions and laws affecting human mobility and social inclusion and to transform them to some extent into European trends,” state Carrera and Guild.

They believe in its current form, the Pact will merely serve to “reinvigorate the relevance of the principle of subsidiarity” by prioritising national competence over that of the EU in the area of immigration and asylum. They argue that the degree of Europeanisation that has already taken place should be acknowledged, and the shared competence of the EU and member states highlighted. 

In a similar vein, the CEPS paper recommends a more proactive role for the European Commission and the direct involvement of the European Parliament to overcome a “democratic deficit”. The authors consider the roles of civil society, NGOs and social partners to be crucial to taking social needs and realities into account. 

The paper further recommends that the security rationale of the Pact should be balanced by including a principle that identifies liberty, human rights and the rule of law as basic commitments of any future policy on migration, borders and asylum. 

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