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European migration policy

In the general media the term "Maastricht" is equated with the Economic and Monetary Union. It is often forgotten that the Maastricht Treaty integrated a totally different policy area into the institutional framework of the European Union for the first time: the common migration policy. The common migration policy refers to citizens of non-EU countries (third country nationals). It comprises a common asylum and immigration policy, a policy towards nationals of third countries and a common external border control (Art. K.1 EUV). In the Treaties of Rome of 1957 this area was never mentioned. However, it developed into a policy area of active transnational co-operation in the project "Binnenmarkt '92" in the 1980s and was finally integrated in the so-called Third Pillar of the Maastricht Treaty as a "matter of joint interest". At the government conference on the review of the Maastricht Treaty this was one of the priority areas.

Since the beginning of the 1990s at the latest migration movements have been at the top of the agenda of international summit meetings. The historically unique dimension of the migration phenomenon at the end of the 20th century is not only to be regarded as a consequence of an enormous population growth and an increase in violent conflicts in the world, but also as the expression and driving force of increased global interdependence. This interdependence makes it more difficult for the individual nation states to control migration autonomously. For this reason the co-operation of EU member states is gaining increasing significance, even if the nation state currently remains the central governing and controlling authority in the field of migration.

The chairman of the reflection group on the government conference of 1996, Carlos Westendorp, called the "extensive population movements which have a considerable impact on Europe" one of the important challenges for the Union. The increased pressure calls for joint action which, by the way, is also called for by the citizens. During the three years which had passed since the Maastricht Treaty had come into force the Union had not satisfied these needs in the eyes of all members of the reflection group, despite an existing awareness of the problem at the level of the government leaders. The reasons for this deficit and the means to resolve it are highly controversial, however. As is the case in other areas of European policy the discussion is dominated by keywords such as communitisation and sovereignty. The report of the Council on the functioning of the Maastricht Treaty especially emphasises that the policy areas of asylum, border controls and immigration are "extremely sensitive".

The project looks into the question of what effects this "extreme sensitivity" of the policy area of migration has on the organisation of co-operation among the EU member states. A certain relationship of tension between the ascertained need for co-operation at European level and the demands for sovereignty at national level leads to the development in this area being both dynamic as well as hesitant. The starting point for these theoretical considerations was an analysis of the previous efforts made by the EU member states to co-operate in migration issues. This analysis was structured into an overview of the development of the co-operation in the field of migration, the results achieved so far and the points of criticism expressed to date, as well as the European-policy dimension of a common migration policy between the need for co-operation and the insistence on sovereignty.

Funding: Stiftung Bevölkerung, Migration, Umwelt
Completed:: June 1999
Researcher: Verónica Tomei
Forum Migration 2. Friedrich Heckmann; Verónica Tomei: Freizügigkeit in Europa. Migrations- und europapolitische Aspekte des Schengener Vertrages. Europa Union Verlag, Bonn 1996
Forum Migration 3. Verónica Tomei: Europäische Migrationspolitik zwischen Kooperationszwang und Souveränitätsansprüchen. Europa Union Verlag, Bonn 1997

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