Dr. Forgács Imre
Minister of Justice and Law Enforcement
of the Republic of Hungary
“Key priorities for the trio EU Presidency of 2010-2011
in the field of immigration and asylum policy”
Ü Eurasylum: As from this month Hungary, Belgium and Spain, are holding the trio EU Presidency until 30 June 2011. Can you guide us through the overall priorities of the Presidency in the field of immigration and asylum policy?
Ü Dr. Forgács Imre: The three Presidencies will focus on the effective implementation of the new multi-annual programme for the development of the area of Freedom, Security and Justice (the Stockholm Programme.) The development of a forward looking and comprehensive European Immigration and Asylum policy will be a key objective for the Presidencies. The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (hereinafter referred to as the Pact) will be the basis for further developments in this field as well as for the actions planned for the implementation of the Global Approach to Migration.
During the Trio EU Presidency the European Council will hold two annual debates on immigration and asylum policies in order to review the implementation of the Pact, as well as related aspects of the Stockholm Programme, and to provide strategic guidance for the development of this field. The preparation and the accomplishment of these debates will be one of the most important priorities in the field of immigration and asylum.
Ü Eurasylum: As you have indicated, one of the most strategic on-going developments in the field of EU immigration and asylum policy is the new multi-annual work programme in the area of justice and home affairs – the so-called Stockholm Programme, which was adopted at the EU Summit in December 2009. The Stockholm Programme will provide a framework for EU activities in the field of asylum, migration, visa policy, police, border and customs cooperation, and justice issues for the period 2010–2014. Can you discuss, briefly, any measures and initiatives which your Presidency will promote to launch this new programme?
Ü Dr. Forgács Imre: The Stockholm Programme constitutes the framework for the activities of the three Presidencies. The Spanish, Belgian and Hungarian Presidencies will join their efforts in order to ensure that the Action Plan on the implementation of the Stockholm Programme is adopted timely in the first semester of 2010. The Belgian and Hungarian Presidencies will further ensure that its implementation start at a steady pace. One of the main priorities of the Hungarian Presidency will be the further strengthening and extension of the Schengen area in line with existing criteria. In the context of the development of the Global Approach to Migration the Hungarian Presidency is planning to further promote the priorities laid down in the Building Migration Partnerships Project by increasing the number of beneficiary states and by hosting the follow-up conference in Budapest in 2011. The Hungarian Presidency will further promote Consular Cooperation and the establishment of Common Visa Application Centres.
Ü Eurasylum: At the informal meeting of EU home affairs and justice ministers in June 2009, the member states agreed to the need to strengthen cooperation in the fight against illegal migration, while at the same time ensuring that any new security measures do not affect the possibilities for legal migration. In particular, it was stressed that the EU should aim to attract more immigrant labour in order to eliminate increasing bottlenecks on the labour market of many member states. Can you comment on some of the key opportunities and challenges of the EU’s emerging economic immigration policy?
Ü Dr. Forgács Imre: As the existing link between migration and employment is increasingly clear, the European Union shall promote the facilitation of well-managed legal migration, which will be beneficial for the countries of origin, the countries of destination and the migrants themselves. The economic immigration policy of the EU shall be based on the needs of labour markets, respecting the rights of migrants recognised in the acquis. Therefore the Hungarian Presidency will continue the discussions on legal instruments proposed by the Commission according to the “Policy Plan on Legal Migration: proposal on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in a Member State”, and the proposals on the conditions of entry and residence for seasonal workers and for intra-corporate transferees. The work on these issues will stress the importance of opening new channels for legal migration to the EU which is an essential element in preventing illegal migration and trafficking and smuggling of human beings.
Ü Eurasylum: Another key issue which is being addressed by the Stockholm Programme is the fact that, despite the establishment of a common set of rules, refugee reception and asylum practices continue to differ widely among member states. This explains the Swedish Presidency’s call for measures that can reduce such disparities, particularly as regards reception conditions, the processing of asylum claims, and return migration policies. The development of such measures also requires that responsibility for asylum applications is shared more evenly within the EU. Can you discuss any planned initiatives of your Presidency to facilitate the completion of the Common European Asylum System?
Ü Dr. Forgács Imre: The Hungarian Presidency will intensify the actions taken by the previous Presidencies to complete the establishment of a common area of protection by working on the legislative proposals included in the European Commission’s Policy Plan on Asylum. This will put emphasis on a single procedure based on common rules along with establishing uniform statuses for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. In this context our main priority is to ensure that adequate measures are taken in order to build a European asylum policy that provides sufficient guarantees in line with the requirements laid down in international law for those seeking international protection while preventing abuses of the asylum system.