Our priorities for the EU over the next 5 years

Our priorities for the EU over the next 5 years

As the new European Parliament is settling down and about to screen the national candidates to the new European Commission, we will continue to advocate for the rights of undocumented people in Europe.

During the 2019 – 2024 legislature of the European Parliament, we continue to support the development, reform, implementation and monitoring of EU initiatives affecting undocumented migrants so that they uphold fundamental rights, the rule of law and contribute to a prosperous, cohesive, and inclusive society.

Here is a rundown of our priorities for the upcoming European legislature:

1. A more inclusive EU budget

While the focus on migrants’ integration is increasing in the 2021 – 2027 EU Multiannual Financial Framework, undocumented migrants are not considered eligible for most of the actions for integration under these funds. NGOs providing services to the undocumented often experience issues in using EU funds for this purpose, due to strict reporting requirements.

We want that:

  • Civil society organisations working on migrants, irrespective of status, should be able to access EU funds for inclusion;
  • Each member state should foresee resources for capacity building on the access to EU funds, to improve the ability of NGOs to access funding;
  • Civil society is involved in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the actions supporting migrants’ inclusion, through meaningful participation in consultations on national programmes and monitoring committees of funds.
  • a Child Guarantee is established to ensure that all children in Europe at risk of poverty or social exclusion, including migrant children, have access to qualitative healthcare, free education, free early childhood education and care, decent housing and adequate nutrition.

2. An end to the criminalisation of solidarity

A recent report from research platform ReSOMA found that, between 2015 and 2019, at least 158 humanitarian actors have been investigated or formally prosecuted on grounds of smuggling or related offences. All those cases can be related to one piece of EU legislation, the 2002 Facilitation Directive, which fails to clearly distinguish between human smuggling and humanitarian actions.

We want that:

  • the EU institutions reform the EU Facilitation Directive, to clearly define migrant smuggling as requiring criminal intent;
  • an independent observatory is set up to monitor all instances of criminalisation of humanitarian actors.

3. More regular migration channels and better labour standards

Current policies deny undocumented migrants access to formal labour markets or social assistance. Therefore, most work without official contracts in undeclared jobs in order to sustain themselves and their families.

In addition, labour rights for undocumented workers largely remain inaccessible in practice. At the same time, there are increasingly immigration control responsibilities on labour inspectorates, to the detriment of employment standards, including health and safety.

We want that:

  • the European Parliament commissions an independent evaluation of the Employers’ Sanctions Directive, to include a focus on undocumented workers’ labour rights and the real impacts of the current approach;
  • EU funds are used in all Member States to set up mechanisms for undocumented workers to effectively claim unpaid wages from their employers;
  • the European Parliament adds quality jobs – respect for labour rights and standards and ensuring appropriate monitoring and reporting mechanisms are in place – to the conditionality framework for receipt of funding and subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy in the next funding cycle.

4. Human-rights based immigration enforcement

All around the world migrants experience discrimination, violence and other rights violations – at borders, but also in the places where they are building their new lives. These include arbitrary decision making, unlawful profiling, disproportionate interference with the right to privacy, violent and dangerous interception practices, illegal deportations, and prolonged, systematic or arbitrary detention.

We want that:

  • Member States put in place procedures that assess the best interests of the child when deciding on their future, before any return decision;
  • Member States set up community-based alternatives to detention that actively engage migrants in immigration procedures and forbid detention of children because of their or their parents’ residence status;
  • EU funds (AMIF) should be used in all member states to promote the development of case management-based alternatives to detention. Funding should not cover the construction of new detention facilities, and only when necessary it should be employed in the renovation and improvement of the state of the existing ones;
  • The proposed recast Return Directive is withdrawn, and all return procedures fully comply with fundamental rights in practice, including the principles of non-refoulement, presumption of liberty, and the best interests of the child;
  • The EU regulations establishing a framework for interoperability among EU information systems in the area of justice and home affairs do not infringe privacy and data protection rights, so fundamental rights are not sacrificed for the EU’s security agenda.

5. Better action against violence towards undocumented victims

In many countries, people who are undocumented face arrest, detention, and deportation if they approach the police to report violence or abuse. Rather than offering help, authorities frequently deny their right to protection and assistance, and enforce – or threaten to enforce – punitive measures instead.

Women can be particularly vulnerable when they migrate as part of a family unit or to join a partner or spouse. Current ‘family reunification’ or ‘marriage’ visas tend to make the foreign spouse economically and legally dependent on her partner. Women whose right to live in a country depends on this kind of visa may be forced to remain in violent or abusive relationships to retain their status.

We want:

  • the EU to accede to the Istanbul Convention, the first comprehensive international legal instrument on violence against women;
  • the EU Victims’ Directive, which grants minimum rights to victims of crimes, to be fully implemented so that it equally protects undocumented people too.

6. More inclusive social inclusion policies

People in an irregular situation – including children – are often denied access to essential services such as healthcare and education.

They also risk being reported, detained and deported when they do try to access services. For them, the simple act of going to see the doctor can lead to their personal data being shared with immigration authorities, triggering immigration enforcement procedures.

We want:

  • The EU’s social inclusion policies to address inclusion of all migrants, regardless of status;
  • Undocumented people to have access to essential services, including healthcare;
  • The EU to implement its commitments to treat all children equally.