The Commission plans new measures to deal with European Union immigration crises, including strengthening border controls and creating rapid reaction squads of border guards to patrol EU frontiers.
The package adopted on 19 July 2006 by the Commission contained a Communication which takes stock of the progress made up till now in fighting illegal immigration and identifies the EU´s policy priorities in this area:
- Further strengthening the external borders: The Commission is suggesting using biometric technology to record the entrance and exit of all non-EU visitors to the Union. This will allow immigration officials to know who is overstaying.
- Continue the fight against human trafficking
- Tackle illegal employment: Illegal immigrants are often able to find employment in the EU – mostly under exploitative conditions in construction, catering and textile industries. This is a significant pull-factor for illegal immigration and the Commission therefore, suggests to specifically target this issue. Member States should introduce harmonised EU sanctions for rogue employers.
- Carry out research on the impact of large-scale regularisations of illegal immigrants
- Continue work towards an effective common return policy
The Communication was accompanied by proposals for a Community code on short-stay visas and for the creation of Rapid Reaction Border Guard Teams made up of national experts able to provide rapid technical and operational assistance at times of high influxes of migrants.
The first proposal aims to clarify the existing rules for issuing visas so as to facilitate legitimate travel and to tackle illegal immigration through further harmonisation of national legislation.
The second proposal aims to alleviate some of the pressure on Southern EU countries by creating a joint force of border guards, translators, and first aid helpers that could check travel documents, search vehicles, take part in sea patrols and interview migrants. The guards could carry weapons and would wear blue armbands with the EU insignia.
The objective is to establish a force of 250 to 300 experts that can be readily available within 10 days of a country’s request. Member States remain free to choose whether they wish to contribute experts to the force, which would be managed by the EU’s Border Security Agency, FRONTEX.