(9) Historical Concepts of EU


EU migration policy: the search for skills



Acquis Communautaire


The Ad Hoc Group on Immigration was a specialized sub element of TREVI established in 1986.


It was made responsible for increasing the stringency of the controls at external borders of the European Communities, co-coordinating national visa policies, harmonizing national asylum rights, and consolidating the exchange of information between Member States on immigration.

ADAPT is the abbreviation for Adaptation of the Workforce to Industrial Change, a programme established in 1994, which continued as ADAPT Bis (Building the Information Society) after 1996. Several thousand projects and partnerships have been funded by the programme to assist in the transition to an information society.

The TREVI Group (the initials stand for the French words “Terrorisme, Radicalisme, Extremisme, Violence Internationale”), a working group outside the EC framework, was already founded in 1978. At first, it dealt primarily with terrorism, but soon also focused on asylum and migration issues. In 1985 representatives of Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg signed the treaty of the same name in the Luxembourg health resort of Schengen, the content of which was to abstain from border controls at their common borders while securing the external borders of the new Schengen area. Freedom of movement across interior borders in this area was supposed to be allowed for by stepping up security measures at the borders to the so called third countries, those countries not partaking in the Schengen agreement.

This virtually marked the birth of European external borders and was accompanied from the very beginning by a rejection of refugees and of migration movements. It should, however, take more than another decade until this idea was put into practice. It is important to notice, that the Schengen agreements took place outside the EC framework and were only integrated into the EU through the treaty of Amsterdam of 1997. This pattern of particular states seeking to push their especially rigorous interpretation of border security and rejection of migration will run through the history of EU migration policy from this point onwards.

In the course of the Single European Act (SEA) the Ad-hoc Group on Immigration was founded on EC level in 1986. This group worked on issues concerning asylum, the issuing of visa, securing the external borders and deportations. In the Palma document – Free Movement of Persons of 1989 the group demanded a standardization of the criteria for issuing visa, a harmonizing of the right to asylum and the strengthening of border controls. In 1990, Schengen II was signed, which sets out the concrete courses of action regarding the legal as well as the technical implementation of the agreement.

The Maastricht treaty which marked the founding of the EU and implemented a three-pillar model came into practice in 1991. With their integration into the third pillar of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) migration politics had finally arrived at European level, still under the premise of rejecting and the fighting migration and under the co-determination of the member states. This development coincides with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the beginning of the Balkan Wars, as well as with increased migration from countries outside Europe. In the early 1990s, with several million people on their ways in or towards Europe and the newly-founded European Union together in unison with its member states were eager to close their borders.

In Germany, for example, this lead to the so called asylum compromise of 1993. This is the first document to mention the concepts of safe third countries and exterritoriality2. These two terms mark paradigm shifts not only in German but also in European migration policy, which is why, in the following, they will be examined more in detail. The original right to asylum arranged for a basic right for every person to file an application for asylum, which then was examined. The concept of safe countries of origin and safe third countries now excluded people from this right due to their origin. Also, all other persons having arrived in Germany via such a safe third country were denied the right to apply for asylum.

The reasoning, that an asylum application could also have been posed in this safe third country served as the basis for the immediate deportation of the respective person to this third country. For Germany, which considered it to be surrounded by safe third countries, this resulted in a virtual walling off against refugees and migrants. These, in turn, could now only enter Germany illegally, which goes along with increased risks and costs. Additionally, migrants and refugees now ran the risk of being subjected to a so called chain deportation if picked up by the police, for the concept of safe third countries was rapidly taken on by other countries. With the so called Airport Regulation (Flughafenregelung), asylum seekers were held in the exterritorial zone of the airports and there – officially outside German territory – had to subject themselves to a fast-tack asylum procedure. In the 1990s, the border to Poland, then a EU external border, was massively rigged and controlled which led to more then 100 people being killed at that border. The asylum compromise thus already contained three distinctive elements of the oncoming EU migration policy: the illegalization of migration, the shifting, and rigging of the borders and the idea of exterritorialy, which today forms the basis of Frontex’ actions off the European external border.

Other countries were also stepping up the extension of their borders. Spain, for example, upgraded its borders at Gibraltar, which was to have fatal results and marked the beginning of the dying in the Mediterranean. Through the ad-hoc group, the EU set up two working groups in 1991 and 1992, CIREA (Centre for Information, Discussion and Exchange on Asylum) and CIREFI (Centre for Information, Discussion and Exchange on the Crossing of Borders and Immigration), which lead to the establishment of the Vienna Process (combating “illegal” migration) and the Budapest Process (upgrading of borders). Behind the latter is the think tank ICMPD (International Centre for Migration Policy Development) which is a co-operating partner of Frontex in the MTM dialogue (Mediterranean Transit Migration Dialogue).

In the East, Poland, the CzechRepublic, and Hungary came together in the Visegrad group in order to push forward the co-operation on migration control with the EU. Also, these countries made arrangements with the EU in which they agreed to take back migrants in exchange for an exemption of their citizens from visa regulations. This enabled the deportation of unwanted Polish and Czech people to their home countries. The EU external border started to shift to the East.

In 1995 the Schengen agreement came into effect, by that time with the participation of Portugal, Spain and other countries. In return for securing a section of the to-date non-existent common external border, the controls at the internal borders between the Schengen member states were dropped. 1997, 2000/2001 and 2007 further entry rounds took place, a process leading towards the convergence of the Schengen area with EU territory, even though up until now both are still not congruent. It was not until Schengen that the EU external border became a reality and securing it a task that should gain importance and that should increasingly be dealt with on a European level, even though the formal administrative sovereignty still lies with the member states. The enormous relevance inherent in guarding of the external border is made clear by the fact that the implementation of the Schengen agreement has always been one of the first requirements for the accession to the EU. Inside the EU the Schengen agreement in turn lead to an expansion of surveillance of the population, because factual border controls can, according to Schengen, now be conducted within each member state.

Another consequence of the Schengen agreement was the setup of the so called SIS (Schengen Information System), into which the security and border agencies of the Schengen states feed information about wanted persons. It is telling that in the beginning, most entries were migrants. The SIS was the first big EU-wide data network, it should, however, soon be followed by others. By now, the follow-up system SIS II is being developed.

From the border line to the border area


Ever since the establishment and the continuous expansion of the Schengen area, the development of the European policy of walling off refugees and migrants has been progressing rapidly. In the course of one decade the EU external border has shifted one hundred kilometers to the East and to the South, has deterritorialised increasingly and its guarding is about to become a European common task. The member states have, however, not yet agreed on a common asylum and immigration policy, which has now been postponed to 2010.

In 1996 a common list of countries that require visa for the EU is passed, and with the Barcelona declaration the EU tackles the project of containing migration in the Mediterranean. At that time the border is still conceptualized to be lying at the European coast. The Dublin agreement comes into force in 1997 (signed in 1990). It regulates the competence of the member states for the processing of applications for asylum. Generally, the state of the first entry is obliged to conduct the proceedings (costs-by-cause principle). For the realization of this agreement, EURODAC was created in 2000, a EU-wide fingerprint database, which is meant to prohibit multiple applications for asylum by the standardized registering of the finger prints of applicants for asylum. Along with this went a intensified exchange of staff-members of the national asylum agencies. FADO (False and Authentic Documents), a database for forged documents, preceded EURODAC in 1998. 1998 also marks the implementation of the High-Level Group on Asylum and Migration, an agency that concentrates all the EU’s migration related endeavors. In 1999, the institution of SCIFA (Strategic Committee for Immigration, Frontiers, and Asylum) follows.

From 1998 onwards, the process of shifting the EU external borders to the fore gains momentum and borders are secured far upfront. The EU action plan on Iraq practices for the first time the “stemming the influx of migrants” within the region of origin and the involvement of transit countries (here especially Turkey and the Balkans). Other action plans follow (Morocco, Albania, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan).

The deployment of Italian police, border police, and military in Albania in 1999 for the prevention/circumvention of migration constitutes a first precedent for the exterritorial guarding of borders. Also in 1998 the Amsterdam treaty carries over the Schengen agreement into the EU, arranges for a enhanced cooperation of police, customs and judiciary on migration and asylum issues and puts up a five-year plan for harmonizing asylum procedures and for fighting migration. In 1999, the European coordination of deportations is heralded in Tampere and in the aftermath readmission agreements are advanced with many third countries.

The Council of Europe met with North African states at a conference in Athens in 2000, where they discussed the active fight against irregular migration and migration management in continuation of the Barcelona process. Slowly, the imaginary EU external border is shifted across the Mediterranean.

From 2000 onwards, it is the so called G5 (a group consisting of Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Great Britain) that presses ahead with the process. The Ministers of the Interior of these states are represented in this group; their common goal is the release of the blockade in EU interior policy. Consequently, the states of the G5 become involved heavily in Frontex. Germany and Italy propose the setting up of an EU border police for the first time in 2000, a suggestion that Spain endorses. This proposal is followed by another one of Italy and the UK, which also includes far-reaching structural arrangements: the European Visa Identification System, European Migration Observatory, Joint Early Warning System, Joint Border Guard, and EuropeanBorderGuardSchool. With the network of liaison officers for migration control set up by CIREFI (Centre for Information, Discussion, and Exchange on the Crossing of Frontiers and Immigration) in the Balkans a structure evolves that is being further developed by Frontex. At a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Laeken the installation of an EU border guard is advanced and Frontex becomes a European idea.

In 2002, the European Commission puts out the paper “Towards integrated management of the external borders of the member states of the EU”, taking further the idea of a European border security agency and specifying it. Further initiatives for a joint „management of migration flows“and for a “Green Paper: return of illegal residents” follow. This results in a EU five-year Action Plan on the Management of External Borders of the European Union (APMEB), in which the tasks of Frontex are already prototypically fixed. It provides for the set-up of two ad-hoc centers for border security in Spain and in Greece that complement the land-border centre in Berlin. It also foresees the integration of national border security and safety agencies and their coordination for operations in special situations (Joint Operations and Rapid Border Intervention Teams – RABITs by Frontex). In Finland, the first Risk Analysis Centre (RAC) is set up, which has special contact with the European Intelligence Centre (EIC) and the Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation (BSRBCC). Also, the External Borders Practitioners Common Unit (PCU or Common Unit) is generated which is responsible for risk assessment, the coordination of activities in the field and the development of a joint strategy for further coordination. By these measures, all organizational structures for the agency Frontex, which has yet to be established, are in place, albeit not yet centralized less than one roof.

The year 2003 is marked by discussions on reception camps for refugees in Northern Africa and with the Dublin II regulation a legal framework is formed to implement the deportation of asylum seekers in compliance with the Dublin accords. By now, 30% of deportation flights in Europe are deportations according to the Dublin II regulations. On a meeting of the G5 in La Baule Nicolas Sarkozy, at that time French Minister of the Interior, proposes a security zone in the Western Mediterranean thereby including the Mediterranean into the EU external border. In Spain, the SIVE (External Surveillance Integrated System) is put into practice, marking a milestone in high tech border controls. Since then, SIVE has been exported to other countries and is developed further with the help of Frontex research programmes, among others. In anticipation of future Frontex operations the Common Unit carries out a total of 17 joint operations at the external border, for example under the name Odysseus off Gibraltar and under the names of Hera and Nautilus off the Canaries. Further operations are called Rio V, Pegasus, Triton, Orca and Neptune. The countries involved in the Dialogue 5+5 stressed the importance of identifying migration routes and of building up networks of experts at a conference in Rabat, all of which are activities that later were to be taken over by Frontex.

The Hague Programme of 2004 provides for a systematic inclusion of transit states in border security programmes and for an integrated EU border security system, the construction of which is being financed by an external borders fund of 2.100 million Euro. The countries involved in the Dialogue 5+5 agree upon an extension of surveillance at sea. Through the European Neighborhood Policy, the EU-neighboring states are further involved in securing the EU external borders. On 26th October 2004 the regulations on Frontex are passed, in May 2005 Frontex takes up work in a field well prepared. With the EU Framework programme on solidarity and management of migration flows the realization of a Common European Asylum System is imminent.

Community initiative on the adaptation of the workforce to industrial change (ADAPT), aimed at promoting employment and the adaptation of the workforce to industrial change, 1994-1999.

Programme or Service Acronym: ADAPT

Description Acronym: Adaptation of the workforce to industrial change

Programme Type: EMP (Employment)

Short Title: Adaptation of the workforce to industrial change (Community Initiative)

Subject Index Codes: Education, Training; Economic Aspects; Innovation, Technology Transfer

Objectives: To contribute to the adaptation of the workforce to industrial change, and to improve the workings of the labor market with a view to promoting growth, employment and the competitiveness of companies in the European Union.

Subdivisions of Programme: Eligible measures:

- Supply of training, counseling, and guidance, including:

. Provision of expertise for groups of firms designed to help them to identify the implications of changes to the industrial environment and to define and set up business plans and to implement the corresponding training plans and actions;

. Support for the development and supply of training schemes related to new qualifications and skills of the workforce in firms affected by changes in production systems, by developing cooperation between training institutes, research centers, and economic development agencies;

. Development and supply of guidance and counseling systems for workers affected by industrial change in different economic sectors;

. Assistance to SMEs for the setting-up and implementation of internal and external ongoing training programmes;

. Training actions aimed at improving the capacity of entrepreneurs and managers to adapt to change and to design the relevant business plans (particular attention is to be paid to improving management quality in SMEs);

- Anticipation, promotion of networking and new employment opportunities including:

. Creation or development, at European level, of sectoral and regional networks set up to analyze trends in markets, production systems, enterprise organizations, industrial relations, employment and related qualifications, and the local development and support structures and services offered to firms;

. Encouragement of cooperation and training in new fields of economic activities;

. Support for local employment development initiatives;

- Adaptation of support structures and systems including:

. Promotion of cooperation and exchange between companies and research centers in the field of technology transfer to local labour markets and economic sectors most affected by change in employment and training to firms and vocational training bodies;

. Support for the development of schemes for the training of trainers, adaptation of workers to industrial change, and change in production systems outlined for this initiative;

. Support to actions promoting regional, inter-regional, and transnational cooperation between enterprises;

- Information, dissemination, and awareness actions including:

. Development of databases on employment and actions geared towards the adaptation of workers to change, and inter linkage with databases on continuous training;

. Promotion of the diffusion of best practice and exchange of experience based on an inter-regional and transnational approach stimulating the application of adequate training schemes and to enhance the multiplier effect;

. Studies relating to industrial change with particular reference to management, organization, technological innovation, communication and information systems, and training activities;

. Actions to raise the awareness of the different economic sectors, training and employment services, research institutes, chambers of commerce and industry, employers and workers organizations and the public authorities, amongst other relevant actors, in particular through specific exchange seminars and publication of examples of good practice; support for information services and support structures such as networks for the dissemination of this information.

Implementation: The actions covered by the ADAPT initiative are to be jointly financed by the Member States, the Community and by enterprises and other bodies where appropriate. Where employees of companies take part in the various operations covered by the initiative, the enterprise concerned will finance an appropriate part of their cost.

The Member States are invited to present proposals for support under the initiative in the form of operational programmes or global grants to the Commission by 1 November 1994. In accordance with the rules covering the Structural Funds, these proposals must include a general appreciation of the situation indicating the objectives to be attained and should include a timetable, criteria, and procedures for implementation, monitoring, and assessment. The Commission is responsible for approving the proposals submitted by the Member States.

It is expected that the content of the operational programmes or global grants supported under the initiative will result in a significant added value for the Community. This is to be achieved by emphasizing transnational cooperation, innovation, a "bottom-up" approach and the reinforcement of Community policies and programmes. To support this approach, technical assistance will be strengthened at the Community, national and decentralized levels in order to assist public authorities, private bodies and other interested bodies in the formulation and subsequent implementation of programmes. Technical assistance will take various forms and may include the dissemination of information and other awareness actions, creation or development of Community-wide networks to facilitate innovation and transnational cooperation, provision of consultancy and other awareness actions, etc.

Community assistance to selected proposals is in the form of subsidies funded from a budget of ECU 1.792 billion. The initiative is applicable across the whole territory of the European Union, although a special emphasis is placed on less-favored regions in accordance with the objective of economic and social cohesion. In general, the distribution of funds between the Member States under the initiative will be based on the relative severity of structural problems, unemployment levels and the quality of the proposals submitted for operational programmes and global grants.

Responsibility for implementing the initiative is entrusted to a single Monitoring Committee in each MemberState. During and at the end of the planning period, the Commission shall evaluate, in partnership with the Member States, the results of the programmes submitted. The Commission will use the targets specified by the Member States in their proposals as the main benchmark against which progress is to be assessed. The European Parliament, the Management Committee for the Community initiatives and the national Monitoring Committees shall be fully informed of the results of these evaluations and the action taken in response to them.

Remarks: ADAPT was established by a Decision of the European Commission, meeting on 15 June 1994, in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations governing the Structural Funds.

General Information: The ADAPT initiative aims at implementing a major transnational action programme linked to the new Objective 4 of the Structural Funds and contains measures to encourage Member States to initiate the reforms prescribed in the White Paper on Growth, Employment and Competitiveness relating to the adaptation of the workforce to economic and technological change.

The ADAPT initiative has four interrelated objectives over and above the measures taken by the Member States themselves and the other activities supported by the European Social Fund (ESF):

- To assist workers, especially those threatened with unemployment as a consequence of industrial change, to adapt to the increasingly rapid changes in the organization and structure of employment;

- To help enterprises increase their competitiveness, mainly by encouraging organizational adaptation and non-physical investment;

- To prevent unemployment by improving the qualifications of the workforce;

- To facilitate the development of new jobs and new activities.

When first established, the ADAPT initiative had three major priorities, concentrating on:

- Facilitating the adaptation of the workforce at risk through vocational training and retraining, guidance and counseling actions, especially for workers confronted with evolving job requirements;

- Promoting partnership and cooperation between research centers, enterprises, training bodies and public authorities;

- Developing networks and cooperation between producers, suppliers, and customers to stimulate the transfer of relevant know-how and good practice and to improve the ability of firms to train their workforce especially to meet the requirements of SMEs.

At its meeting on 8 May 1996, the Commission decided to introduce a further priority within the initiative aimed at contributing to the development of a proactive social policy for the emerging European Information Society (Official Journal No C 200 of 10.7.1996). Known as Adapt-bis, this new action has the following aims:

- To evaluate and anticipate labor market developments related to the emerging Information Society;

- To develop active strategies to assist the labor force to adapt to the new demands of the Information Society and to encourage the gearing of IT products to the needs of society;

- To develop and experiment policies and schemes which will support the adaptation of work organization and employment practices to the Information Society and to identify ways to improve both the quality of working life and business efficiency.

The activities to be pursued under the ADAPT initiative are carried out on a Community-wide basis. They will facilitate cross-fertilization between enterprise strategies, research and development, and training provisions across a wide-range of industries and services in all Member States. In particular, a major effort is to be made to develop and implement adequate training schemes, to identify and develop new skills and qualifications, to upgrade the level of existing skills and to improve the capacity of the workforce to acquire new skills, to develop and support innovative approaches focused on networking between enterprises, and to promote the diffusion of R&D results.

The Commission, in partnership with the Member States, is responsible for ensuring complementarily between the measures supported under the ADAPT initiative and those introduced under the Employment and Development of Human Resources initiative, the initiative for SMEs, and actions supported under other Community programmes, in particular in the domain of vocational training and of equal opportunities for women.

Key Publications: CEC. Guide to Community initiatives: 1994-1999. European Commission, Luxembourg (LU). Report: EN (1994) 136 pp.. ISBN 92-826-8438-5.

Number of Projects: 0 (Project information for this programme is currently not available in the CORDIS Projects database)

Start Date: 1994-07-01

End Date: 1999-12-31

Duration: 66 months

Programme Status: Completed

Programme Funding: 1792

Commission Service: Employment and Social Affairs DG

Official Journal Reference: C 180

Official Journal Date: 1994-07-01

Action to contribute to the development of the Information Society within the Community ADAPT Initiative, 1996-1999

Programme or Service Acronym: ADAPT-BIS

Description Acronym: Adaptation of the workforce to industrial change - Building the Information Society

Programme Type: EMP (Employment)

Short Title: Development of the Information Society (within the ADAPT Community Initiative)

Subject Index Codes: Education, Training; Regional Development; Information, Media

Objectives: To develop, within the ADAPT initiative, a proactive social policy for the emerging European Information Society.

Subdivisions of Programme: Eligible measures:

- To evaluate and anticipate labor market developments related to the emerging Information Society, in particular anticipating:

. Obsolescence of certain areas of skill and facilitating the development of new competences;

. Emergence of new industries and information-intensive sectors and occupations, especially those where employment is likely to grow;

. Employment effects of the Information Society within industrial sectors and on labor market trends;

. Barriers to the development of the Information Society, in particular attitudinal, social, political, and legal/regulatory barriers;

- To develop active strategies to help the labor force adapt to the new demands of the Information Society and to encourage the gearing of IT products to the needs of potential users. This may be achieved, inter alia, by:

. Facilitating experiments and pilot schemes to provide workplace-based training and life-long learning opportunities for workers who need to adapt to the Information Society;

. Promoting experimentation with new telematics-based employment services which facilitate wider and more user-friendly access by those requiring these services;

. Helping local labor organizations to be more responsive and flexible in the context of the Information Society;

- To develop and experiment policies and schemes which will support the adaptation of work organization and employment practices to the Information Society and to identify ways to improve both the quality of working life and business efficiency, through:

. Enhancing the skills of management regarding the introduction of new information and communication technologies, especially in relation to SMEs seeking new opportunities within a global marketplace;

. Rapid diffusion of best practice in applying these technologies in the workplace through the support of information exchange networks between enterprises, and between the public and private sectors;

. Increasing the ability of workers to participate in the redesign of organizational structures in relation to the Information Society;

. New institutional approaches to the development of skills and competences, such as private-public cooperation in the design and delivery of new concepts for learning and continuing education (e.g. open and distance learning and retraining).

Implementation: ADAPT-bis is implemented under the Community Initiative on the adaptation of the workforce to industrial change (ADAPT) which was established in 1994. ADAPT-bis (building the Information Society) cover the planning period 1996 to 1999.

Proposals for support under ADAPT-bis are submitted by the Member States in the form of supplements to their existing ADAPT operational programmes or of global grants. In the case of global grants, Community assistance may be given directly to decentralized organizations responsible for implementation, including those responsible for managing transnational actions and designated by the Member States concerned.

The total additional contribution from the Structural Funds for the ADAPT-bis initiative is estimated at ECU 162 million, of which ECU 51 million will be allocated to Objective 1 and 6 regions.

The distribution of financial resources between the Member States is to be based on the relative severity of structural problems including, in particular, relevant unemployment levels as well as the quality of the proposals submitted for operational programmes and global grants.

General Information: At its meeting on 8 May 1996, the Commission decided to introduce a new priority within the Community initiative on the adaptation of the workforce to industrial change (ADAPT) focusing on the development of the Information Society.

The purpose of the action is to contribute to the development of a proactive social policy for the emerging European Information Society within the established objectives of the ADAPT initiative. These are:

- To assist workers, especially those threatened with unemployment as a consequence of industrial change, to adapt to the increasingly rapid changes in the organization and structure of employment;

- To help enterprises increase their competitiveness, mainly by encouraging organizational adaptation and non-physical investment;

- To prevent unemployment by improving the qualifications of the workforce;

- To facilitate the development of new jobs and new activities.

Number of Projects: 0 (Project information for this programme is currently not available in the CORDIS Projects database)

Start Date: 1996-05-08

End Date: 1999-12-31

Duration: 44 months

Programme Status: Completed

Programme Funding: 162

Commission Service: Employment and Social Affairs DG

Official Journal Reference: C 200

Official Journal Date: 1996-07-10



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