Towards a pro-active EU policy on migration and integration

Brussels, 15-16 March 2005

{{1. Introduction:


1) ETUC is highly committed to fighting for a Europe characterised by openness, solidarity and responsibility , as expressed on numerous occasions. This resolution builds on previous ETUC resolutions and positions on this issue, adopted since the Helsinki congress 1999.[[
Helsinki, 1 July 1999: European Trade Unions without Borders
Brussels, 13-14 December 2000: Post-Nice enlargement of the European Union
Brussels, 10-11 October 2001: Towards a European policy on immigration and asylum
Brussels, 19-20 November 2002: Towards a European policy on immigration and asylum (2)
Brussels, 16-17 October 2003: Action Plan for an ETUC policy on migration, integration and combating discrimination, racism and xenophobia.

2) On 11 January 2005, the European Commission launched a public debate on economic migration, and invited all interested parties to submit their views on a ‘Green Paper on an EU approach to managing economic migration', no later than 15 April 2005.
ETUC wants to contribute to the debate with this resolution, and the response to the Green Paper in the Annex.
{{2. Key elements of a pro-active approach

}}ETUC is convinced that it is time to adopt a more pro-active EU policy on migration and integration in the interest of Europe's current and future population that is based on the recognition of fundamental social rights of current citizens as well as newcomers, and that is embedded in strong employment and development policies.

Such policy should, in an integrated approach,

1) be based on a clear framework of rights for all the workers concerned, as provided for in all the relevant international conventions and instruments, recognizing that migrant workers and their families are human beings and no merchandise [[Declaration of Philadelphia 1944: “ The Conference reaffirms the fundamental principles on which the Organization is based and, in particular, that
(a) labour is not a commodity; ”
]], and building on the ILO “Resolution concerning a fair deal for migrant workers in a global economy” adopted in June 2004, calling for a rights-based approach to labour migration;

2) be established in close consultation with social partners;

3) guarantee the free movement of all persons who are either citizens of an EU Member State or third country nationals who are legal residents, in a framework of non-discrimination and equal treatment;

4) provide for a clear legal framework of equal treatment in working conditions for all lawfully employed third country nationals as compared to nationals, and respect for the host country's rules and regulations and industrial relations systems;

5) prioritise investing in the capacities and qualifications of unemployed or underemployed EU citizens including those from a migrant or ethnic minority background, as well as legally resident third country nationals including recognized refugees, as a first priority in tackling labour market shortages;

6) increase efforts to combat racism and xenophobia, and promote the full integration of immigrants and ethnic minorities into European labour markets and societies, whilst respecting cultural and religious diversity, and recognizing their positive contribution and potential;

7) attribute social and political citizenship rights to migrant workers and their family members;

8) open up possibilities for the admission of economic migrants, by providing a common EU framework for the conditions of entry and residence. It should be based on a clear consensus between public authorities and social partners about real labour market needs, and at the same time prevent a two-tier migration policy that favours and facilitates migration of the highly skilled while denying access and rights to semi- and low skilled workers;

9) be tough on employers using exploitative employment conditions and focus on prevention and on sanctioning those who profit from these abusive situations, including traffickers in human beings, rather than penalizing the workers who are their victims;

10) create ‘bridges' out of ‘irregular situations' for undocumented immigrant workers and their families, including asylum seekers who have been denied a refugee status, while respecting their basic human rights;

11) promote cooperation and partnership with third countries and in particular developing countries.

Last but not least, such policy should acknowledge the major importance of strengthening the European social model in providing and maintaining basic protection for all Europe's inhabitants, to counter increasing feelings of social insecurity by millions of workers that may feed into racism and xenophobia, and to help the trade union movement play its cohesive role.
}}3. General remarks about the Green Paper:

1) ETUC welcomes the Commission's Green Paper, which addresses an issue that is at the top of the political agenda in many Member States.

2) It agrees with the remarks made in the Introduction, that “while immigration in itself is not a solution to demographic ageing, more sustained immigration flows could increasingly be required to meet the needs of the EU labour market and ensure Europe's prosperity”.
Any discussion on economic migration should therefore be linked to the Lisbon strategy, and embedded in EU employment policies. Close cooperation on national as well as EU levels between the Ministers and Commissioners for Employment and Social Affairs and Justice and Home affairs is therefore key.

3) Because the management of migratory flows has to be taken within the context of global migratory movements, the reasons for migration, the situation in countries of origin, and the overall responsibility of the EU for the global decent work agenda, a strong involvement of and close cooperation at national and EU levels with the Ministers and Commissioner for Development is also required.

4) ETUC also welcomes the reference in the Introduction to the need for a European strategic initiative to establish common criteria for the admission of economic migrants, to reduce ‘illegal' migration.

5) However, ETUC is disappointed about the overall emphasis in the Green Paper on the economic aspects and utilitarian arguments of the issue, and the fact that it does not pay enough attention to the following important aspects:

a) The Green Paper includes no reference at all to the relevant international and EU treaties and conventions. ETUC believes that any policy for economic migration should be based on a clear framework of rights for all the workers concerned.

b) Very little attention is paid to the key issue of integration. Where the issue is addressed, a very one-sided approach is taken, only mentioning introduction programmes, language courses etc, that should ‘adapt' the immigrant to the host country, ignoring the indispensable other side of creating more openness and tolerance in host societies for cultural diversity, the positive contribution that migrants can make, and the need to invest in their potential.

c) There is no reference to the important role that Social Partners and social dialogue can play at all relevant levels in assessing labour market needs, promoting sustainable policies for economic migration, addressing and preventing exploitative working conditions of migrant workers, and promoting their integration and non-discrimination in the labour market and the workplace.

d) The perspective of the labour migrant is absent; it speaks of win-win situations for sending and receiving states, but does not include any reference to the perspective of the migrant worker and his/her family, his or her rights and his or her needs and wishes. Government policy cannot successfully ‘manage' the movements of labour migrants if this policy does not include reference to their interests and perspectives.

e) The Green Paper does not show any gender awareness. Increasingly, labour migrants are women, working in public healthcare, nursing homes or private households, providing for care for children, the sick and the elderly.
This should be explicitly taken into account when discussing the opening up of possibilities for economic migration.
}}A more detailed response to the questions raised in the Green Paper is to be found in the Annex to this resolution.

4. Actions to be taken by ETUC and its member organisations

}}In the framework of the ongoing and increasingly tense debate on migration and integration, ETUC and its member organisations want to contribute to social cohesion within an enlarging European Union with the following actions and activities:

a) monitor and further implement the ETUC action plan on migration, integration and combating discrimination, racism and xenophobia;

b) intensify actions and campaigns, calling for ratification of ILO Conventions 97 and 143 on migrant workers, and the UN Convention 1990 on migrant workers and their families, and the relevant Council of Europe instruments;

c) promote by all means the freedom of association of migrant workers, regardless of their legal status, and provide for an exchange of good trade union practice in this regard;

d) promote the use of legal instruments to pursue the human rights of migrant workers, such as the Additional Protocol to the European Social Charter Providing for a System of Collective Complaints as well as the procedures referred to in Articles 24 and 26 of the ILO Constitution;

e) explore ways to bring about an ETUC membership card, building on the Helsinki 1999 congress resolution (“Trade Unions without Borders”), to make the role of the European trade union movement as a cohesive factor more visible, and develop mutual aid systems cross border on a bilateral as well as multilateral basis;

f) contribute to actions and activities that show the positive contribution of migrants and their families to the European societies and economies, and help bring about solidarity and mutual understanding;

g) call on employers organisations to take more effective action to prevent and tackle employers using migrant labour under exploitative working conditions, and to use social dialogue to address labour market needs.