Latvijas Republikas Iekšlietu Ministrijas
Pilsonības un Migrācijas Lietu Pārvalde
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Migration and asylum in the European Union

Migration and asylum issues are playing more significant role in the agenda of the European Union (EU), in particular taking into account world events and instability in the different regions, as well as demographic trends in the world.

According to the Treaty of Lisbon which came into force on December 1, 2009, the European Union and the Member States share competence in migration and asylum policy which is part of a broader policy area – freedom, security and justice. Thus, legislation in this policy area is partially adopted on the EU level and Member States, including Latvia, have to transpose it into national legislation or implement directly, but partially Member States can act as independent legislators on those issues, which are not regulated on the EU level.

Main policy principles and guidelines for migration and asylum policy, as well as aims to be achieved and tasks to be performed have been defined in the adopted policy documents at the highest level – starting with Tampere programme in 1999 and Hague programme in 2004, as well as European Pact on Immigration and Asylum in 2008 and Stockholm programme in 2009.

In June 2014, the European Council defined the strategic guidelines for legislative and operational planning for further development within the area of freedom, security and justice. Therefore the priorities for the next five years are to:

  • better manage migration in all its aspects: by addressing shortages of specific skills and attracting talent; by dealing more robustly with irregular migration, also through better cooperation with third countries, including on readmission; by protecting those in need through a strong asylum policy; with a strengthened, modern management of the Union's external borders;
  • prevent and combat crime and terrorism: by cracking down on organised crime, such as human trafficking, smuggling and cybercrime; by tackling corruption; by fighting terrorism and countering radicalisation – while guaranteeing fundamental rights and values, including the protection of personal data;
  • improve judicial cooperation among our countries: by building bridges between the different justice systems and traditions; by strengthening common tools, including Eurojust; by mutual recognition of judgments, so that citizens and companies can more easily exercise their rights across the Union.

Thus the development of a forward-looking and comprehensive European migration policy, based on solidarity and responsibility is stressed to be of core importance.  It is stated in the programme that well-managed migration can be beneficial to all stakeholders and that Europe will need a flexible policy which is responsive to the priorities and needs of Member States and enable migrants to take full advantage of their potential. Meanwhile, it is necessary to prevent, control and combat illegal migration as the EU faces an increasing pressure from illegal migration flows. However, at the same time, people in need of protection must be ensured access to legally safe and efficient asylum procedures.

European Commission published European Agenda on Migration in 2015 and it this document includes several initiatives to address current challenges and eliminate shortcomings in the field of migration and asylum. In context with this programme, the Commission has published a mid-term review in 2017.

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