Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur documents
Rapporteur on Co-operation in the Mediterranean Basin
RAP-MED(2002)CB1 27 August 2002
Meeting of 5 July 2002
The Rapporteur on co-operation in the Mediterranean Basin (RAP-MED) met on 5 July 2002 with Ambassador Guillermo Kirkpatrick, Permanent Representative of Spain, in the chair, on the basis of documents RAP-MED(2002)OJ1, RAP-MED(2002)1 and 2.
1. Managing migratory flows and other Mediterranean challenges: exchange of views introduced by the Director General of DGIII on the role of the Council of Europe in creating synergies and giving follow-up where appropriate to recent European Union high-level meetings, notably:
- Vth Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers (Valencia, 22-23 April 2002)
- European Council (Seville, 21-22 June 2002)
The Director General for Social Cohesion, Mrs Battaini-Dragoni, referring to document RAP-MED(2002)1 concerning the two above-mentioned meetings held in Valencia and Seville, made the introductory statement which appears in the appendix to this synopsis.
In the course of the discussion which followed, several delegations thanked the Chairman for convening the meeting and the Director General for drawing attention to a number of important issues. In particular, the following points were raised:
- a comprehensive set of proposals for a Council of Europe contribution to the EU’s Barcelona Process, with special reference to the management of migratory flows, could usefully be raised at the next high-level (Quadripartite) meeting with the European Union;
- the role of the Council of Europe and its Development Bank in contributing to the solution of genuinely pan-European problems, in close cooperation with all concerned organisations;
- the proposal (of the Parliamentary Assembly) for a European Observatory on Migration questions, situated in Spain, was considered interesting;
- the role of the North/South Centre (for Global Solidarity and Interdependence) -whose President, Mr Miguel-Angel Martinez, would address the Deputies in October- as well as OSCE involvement were specifically mentioned, including by the responsible Head of Division in the Directorate of Political Affairs.
Mrs Battaini-Dragoni, replying, thanked for the many expressions of interest, for example in raising migration issues at high-level with the European Union in the framework of the forthcoming Quadripartite meeting, due to take place in late September, including the possibility of envisaging joint programmes (Council of Europe/EU). Alleviating problems related to migration -both legal and illegal- might be facilitated if, for example, the North-South Centre were to enlarge participation from the Southern shore of the Mediterranean in its activities.
She noted that DGIII was currently discussing the interesting possibility, in this context, of opening the European Convention on Social Security to non-European countries.
The Chairman thanked the Director General and noted in particular the interest of the current chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers as well as of the future Maltese chairmanship in carrying forward Council of Europe work on the issues raised.
2. Elements for a draft reply of the Committee of Ministers to Recommendation 1563 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the humanitarian situation of the displaced Kurdish population in Turkey
The Chairman asked if participants could approve, for presentation to the Deputies for adoption, the elements drawn up by the Secretariat on his instructions, and contained in document RAP-MED(2002)2.
The delegation of the member State concerned found the draft elements acceptable. Misconceptions on the situation in question were common, and some were reflected in Parliamentary Assembly texts, including the one under consideration, which did not mention the positive attitude of the authorities referred to recently by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General.
The Chairman noted agreement to present the draft reply to the Deputies.
3. Any other business
4. Date of the next meeting
Tuesday, 10 September 2002 at 11 am.
Migration policies and the Euro-Mediterranean region – The distinctive role of the Council of Europe
Statement by Mrs Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Director General of Social Cohesion
Major recent steps in the Euro-Mediterranean co-operation
A prosperous, democratic, stable and secure Mediterranean region is a key developmental objective in itself for the populations of this region. It is also in the best interests of Europe as a whole because the Mediterranean region is our “near abroad” on our Southern flank.
The objectives agreed on at Barcelona in 1995 remain fundamentally valid and even increasingly relevant after the 11th September and the recent good scores of populist parties with xenophobic programmes in several European countries.
“The common objective remains to create an area of peace and stability, of shared prosperity through sustainable and balanced economic and social development, of development co-operation and of mutual understanding and tolerance among people of differing cultures and civilisations.”
This objective cannot be achieved without open and innovative dialogue and lasting Euro-Mediterranean co-operation. Such partnership is a crucial element to fight poverty and also to promote human rights, good governance and the rule of law in the Mediterranean region.
From this perspective, it is good news that the countries from the EU in Valencia, at the 5th Conference of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers, 22-23 April 2002, stressed the need for a Euro-Mediterranean Partnership as the logical frame for co-operation and adopted an Action Plan covering the globality of the Barcelona Process objectives; this so as to give a new political impetus to the Process, which had been unfortunately characterised by ups and downs since 1995, and facilitate the pursuit of co-operation in the political and security chapter, in the parliamentary field, in the economic and financial 1 , trade and industry, social, cultural and human dimension areas, as well as in the field of justice, in combating drugs, organised crime and terrorism as well as in the treatment of issues related to the social integration of migrants, migration and movements of persons 2 .
One can observe that, from Barcelona to Valencia, Ministers of Foreign Affairs in the Euro-Mediterranean region have worked on the assumption that until the huge gap between rich and poor countries in the Euro-Mediterranean region decreases, the incentive to migrate will continue to be strong and it will be impossible to stop illegal migration flows.
In a very unequal world, all the walls, barbed wires and electronic eyes have a limited impact as can be seen at the US border with Mexico or at Sangatte (France). Never has a wall prevented someone from hoping for a better life and from migrating to try to realise his/her dream.
In Tampere, at the Extraordinary European Council in November 1999, it was recognised that what is needed instead is the capacity and willingness to address the issue of migration in a comprehensive manner, to analyse the structural causes of poverty and to respond in a global manner (cf Tampere Declaration: “….. addressing political, human rights and development issues, in countries of origin and transit as well as by recognising the need for more efficient management of migration flows at all stages”).
This approach has been recently reconfirmed by the countries from the European Union at the Seville Summit (22-23 April 2002) where they recognised that
1. reinforced security measures and control mechanisms at the European borders to apprehend clandestine immigrants will be useless unless the root causes of migration flows, which are first and foremost poverty, are dealt with 3 ;
2. that migration flows must be managed on the basis of the rule of law, bringing together countries of origin and transit (cf adoption of a Global Plan to fight illegal migration and of a Plan for the management of external borders);
3. that intensification of economic co-operation is the basis to reduce migration flows;
4. efforts to integrate regular migrants must be intensified.
The decision of European Union members not to follow the proposal at the Seville Summit to suspend co-operation agreements or to review the level of aid to “non co-operative countries” in combating illegal migration is an important step in this direction.
The contribution of the Council of Europe in the migration field
Although I must acknowledge that the capacity of the Council of Europe, if compared to the European Union to contribute to the Barcelona Process is limited, the Council and its Development Bank can credit themselves with an outstanding long tradition of work in the field of migration. In policy development terms, the Council of Europe has developed effective policies for the integration of migrant workers and has succeeded in developing, since the Tampere European Union Council, a Strategy for the orderly management of migration flows. More recently, it has given a lot of attention to the protection of the human dignity of migrants (both regular and irregular) and their families. In addition, it can rely on the initiatives of the North-South Centre, which runs a Trans-Mediterranean programme and on the important contribution of the Council of Europe Development Bank and its constant ability to invest into migration-related projects 4 .
Let me recall, in the policy field as far as standard setting is concerned, a few of our cornerstone texts :
- The European Convention on Establishment (ETS n° 19),
- “The European Convention on the legal status of migrant workers” (ETS n° 93),
- “The Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at local level” (ETS n° 144),
- and the European Convention on Social Security (ETS n° 78).
Let me highlight the importance of the Convention on the legal status of migrant workers. This text is designed to supplement the protection afforded by the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter, and is based on the principle of equality of treatment between migrant workers and nationals of the host country 5 .
Moreover, as far as the European Convention on Social Security is concerned, special mention should be made in this context of the contribution of the Ministerial Conference on Social Security, held in Bratislava (May 2002), which dealt with the issue of the contribution by migrant workers to the financing of health care and pensions schemes in an ageing Europe. By changing the way in which we look upon regular migrant workers, the Ministerial Conference succeeded in showing that migrant workers are an important and positive contribution to European societies and not a threat.
Another important contribution in policy terms, that should be mentioned here, is the recent Report by the CDMG on “Diversity and Cohesion” which, on the basis of the concept that diversity enriches society, contributes to facilitating community relations.
Today, however, I cannot resist the temptation of introducing, although in a sketchy way, the Strategy for the orderly management of migration flows.
This Strategy 6 , whose concrete implementation will be one of the subjects of the next Ministerial Conference in Helsinki (16-17 September 2002) is based on the Protection of individual human rights , among which central is the right to movement as set out in Protocol 4 to the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) and consequently the need to manage migration flows in such a way as to ensure the full enjoyment of this right. The Strategy works on the assumption that Europe is and will continue to be a place of immigration as a result of economic, social and demographic factors.
Key concepts in the Strategy for the orderly management of migration flows
The successful management of migratory flows requires that all parties concerned – including countries of origin, transit and destination, regional bodies, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations – join their efforts in creating a more positive international climate for the effective management of migratory flows.
Four broad lines are considered by the Strategy: first, the alignment and – wherever possible – the incorporation of migration policies into foreign policies with the aim of creating a suitable environment for co-operation; second, the implementation of information programs aimed at potential emigrants designed to educate them about migration possibilities and to dispel false expectations; third, the establishment of training programmes for officials in sending countries involved in migration management; and fourth, the development of a dialogue with sending countries to address root causes of irregular migratory flows and to identify appropriate solutions.
Let me at least introduce today points 1 and 2. They relate to the integration of migration into the broader framework of international affairs. The suggestion here is that migration must be addressed, not exclusively as the domestic, national sovereignty issue which it undoubtedly is, but also as a prime item on the international agenda.
To do that one has to begin in fact at the national level, by integrating migration or at least co-ordinating migration issues with other relevant government policies. Often migration related issues are dealt with in isolation, with relatively little or even no co-ordination among concerned government agencies. Typically, ministries of interior or justice deal with entry control issues; ministries of foreign affairs handle humanitarian issues, ministries of social affairs are responsible for integration; and so on. It would appear reasonable to presume that, the moment effective communication lines have been established at the national levels, international co-operation will be more easily achievable.
An important follow-up to that first step is the redefinition of migration management so that it is no longer seen as something to be dealt with exclusively at or within the border of the country of destination, but as a phenomenon which must be managed as far upstream as possible, taking account of and addressing conditions at source. This is not making a case for a simple shift in the locus of responsibility from countries of destination to countries of origin; it is arguing for more effective and comprehensive strategies of intervention. Comprehensiveness is the key word. A comprehensive migration policy is not the same as launching and/or promoting a migration programme. It is simply a balanced and coherent government response to all issues related to cross-border movements; an approach which knits all relevant policy elements; border control, asylum, family reunion, integration, migrant trafficking, return, into an integrated package.
Such a comprehensive outlook is urgently needed if there is to be a meaningful conversation between countries of origin and countries of destination, but in addition to that, there is a need for these parties to develop a mutual understanding of the specific interests they wish to uphold and defend. At the moment, one might say that one side speaks the language of economic survival, the other, the language of law and order.
Given these differences in priorities, it is not difficult to understand why co-operation in international migration remains an ideal to be reached rather than a practical reality, but the fact remains that if there is to be genuine progress towards a framework for orderly international movement, the search for an agreed agenda must continue. Such an agenda should give consideration to adjustments to trade and capital flows, to the implementation of judiciously targeted development programmes as means of alleviating emigration pressure, to forms of consultation, networking and communication, along the lines of the Barcelona Process as re-launched in Valencia and reconfirmed in Seville.
Point 2 of the Strategy deals with information provision. It recommends the development of information programmes for the benefit of potential emigrants. Unfortunately, we have only very limited information about the manner in which intending migrants, especially (intending) irregular migrants, seek and process information in order to make personal choices about the timing of their departure, routes and destinations. We do know, however, that the information reaches them through multiple channels. We have good reasons to suspect that much of the information is incomplete or inaccurate: and, in some cases, it will have been distorted deliberately to encourage them to take up the “services” offered by migrant traffickers. All of which would appear to make a strong case for much greater attention to be given to the dissemination of clear and authoritative information, through channels which are both accessible and credible to the intending migrants.
In addition, there is a strong argument for believing that intergovernmental co-operation will be considerably more effective if sustained attention is given to the gathering and exchange of data and statistics on international migratory flows. The international community can ill afford to continue to rely on generally vague estimates or orders of magnitude and will be repaid for all serious investment in the development of reliable data bases.
Protection of the Human Dignity of illegal migrants
As I mentioned before, the Council of Europe, as a human rights organisation, is very concerned about the extremely dangerous conditions in which many illegal migrants (women and children) find themselves.
Illegal migrants risking their life to reach a country where they think they will be able to have a better life are in fact victims on three counts:
- victims of the economic and political crisis of their country of origin which drives them to seek basic livelihood and social advancement elsewhere;
- victims of traffickers and mafia who take advantage of this aspiration and have found a way of diversifying into more lucrative criminal activities;
- victims of the exploitation to which they might be subjected once they arrive in the country of destination, if they do arrive.
The European Court of Human Rights has often dealt with cases related to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants and the compatibility of expulsion procedures with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Committee for Prevention of Torture has visited many special placement structures and published reports on the unacceptable conditions of administrative detention of asylum seekers or illegal migrants.
The Human Rights Commissioner has also vividly criticised expulsion procedures not respectful of human rights.
Finally, the Committee of Ministers has recently decided to launch the preparatory work for a Convention against Illicit Trafficking of Human Beings.
At the end of this presentation, my wish and hope is that new opportunities will be offered within the GT-MED to report on both other important aspects of this work, including the project development work (as carried out by the CEB), and more generally, on the contribution of other sectors of the Council of Europe, including the North-South Centre, etc, this with a view to obtain a full picture of the distinctive contribution of the Council of Europe in the Euro-Mediterranean region. This contribution is clearly to support Mediterranean countries to continue on the road towards building societies based on human rights and non-discrimination, on democracy and participation, on social cohesion and equality of opportunities, as well as on the rule of law. This means, in other words, to continue on the road to sustainable development in this region.
“The Strategy on the orderly management of migration flows” is focused in this direction as a fundamental contribution in the field of migration policies, characterised by the search for dialogue and co-operation with countries of origin, transit and destination.