EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration

This Communication presents possible solutions and measures for the priority areas of EU policy on combating illegal immigration. The priority areas are: cooperation with non-EU countries, border security, integrated management of external borders, secure travel and identity documents, the fight against trafficking in human beings, regularisation of the status of non-EU nationals in irregular situations, combating illegal employment, return policy, improving the exchange of information using existing instruments and carriers' liability.


Communication from the Commission of 19 July 2006 on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals [COM(2006) 402 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


Cooperation with third countries

Enhancing dialogue and cooperation on migration with non-EU countries, particularly those of sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean countries falling within the scope of the EU's neighbourhood policy (in line with the conclusions of the European Council of 15 and 16 December 2005).

The EU will continue to address the push-factors for illegal immigration, such as poverty, conflict and environmental degradation.

Migration aspects will continue to be integrated into the EU's strategies for assisting developing countries, in close partnership with the countries concerned. Where appropriate and by mutual agreement, the EU will help partners in the developing world to enhance their capacity to better manage migration flows and fight against human trafficking.

The EU immigration portal will offer information on both legal migration opportunities and the dangers and consequences of illegal immigration into the EU. In addition, the feasibility of information campaigns will be considered, as will the possibility of establishing information points, for instance in selected African countries.

Secure Borders - Integrated Management of External Borders - Secure travel and identity documents

A common understanding of integrated border management should be developed to cover the full spectrum of border management activities at EU level. This approach would include the identification of best practices for an integrated border management model.

To support this, the Commission will also carry out an evaluation of FRONTEX in 2007 which will comprise a review of its current tasks including an assessment of whether its remit should be extended. Furthermore a supervisory mechanism, including unannounced inspections, to supplement current Schengen evaluation arrangements is being considered.

An integrated technological approach - e-borders - should be included in the fight against illegal immigration. The system requiring certain carriers to communicate data contained in their passengers' passports to the authorities which carry out checks on persons at the external border should be extended to other carriers and further enhanced, with a view to developing threat analyses and risk assessments.

The Commission is also considering creating a generalised and automated entry-exit system, complementing existing databases, to facilitate checks on the status of third country nationals entering and exiting EU territory. Given the impact, financial implications, and technological complexity of such a system, the Commission will carry out a comprehensive study, to be initiated in 2006.

Common guidelines should be developed on minimum security standards, in particular with respect to issue procedures for travel and identity documents.

Fight against human trafficking

The Commission's current priorities for implementation of the Council action plan on trafficking in human beings and the Commission Policy Plan on legal immigration are:

  • developing coordination and cooperation mechanisms;
  • promoting best practices in identifying and supporting victims;
  • developing guidelines for data collection;
  • networking and involving international and non-governmental organisations.

Through its development policy the Commission will have to continue funding measures addressing the factors that make some people vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, discrimination and lack of access to basic and higher education.

In order to address the lack of evidence and information, a study will be launched in 2007 on current practices and the effects and impact of regularisation measures in Member States. This study will constitute the basis for future discussion, including on whether there is a need for a common legal framework on regularisation at EU level.

Combating illegal employment

The Commission recommends that Member States adopt and implement measures requiring employers to verify the immigration status of third country nationals before offering employment. Member States should also apply effective sanctions for breaches of legislation in particular on health and safety at the workplace.

In 2006 the Commission will be launching an evaluation of the impact of measures taken against facilitators. It will start discussions with Member States and relevant stakeholders, in particular employers' organisations and trade unions, on employers' liability where enterprises employ non-EU nationals who are illegally present in the Member State. At the end of this process, it will evaluate whether additional measures are needed at EU level to harmonise sanctions against such enterprises.

In cooperation with NGOs, information should be collected directly from undeclared workers about the employment of non-EU nationals whose presence is illegal and the measures taken by Member States to reduce such employment.

On the subject of future legislation on the legal entry of economic migrants, the proposal for a general framework Directive to guarantee a common framework of rights for all third-country nationals in legal employment, planned for 2007, is to include measures to reduce the risk of abuses, e.g. biometric identifiers in travel and residence documents to reliably establish the link between the document and its holder.

Employers could also be made financially responsible.

Return policy

Ongoing negotiations on readmission agreements should be completed and new negotiating mandates adopted, starting with the Western Balkan countries. The Commission will consider further proposals encouraging Member States to facilitate short-term transit by land or sea. FRONTEX is to undertake work on identifying best practice on the acquisition of travel documents and the return of third country nationals. Common standards for the training of officers responsible for return should also be established.

Improving exchange of information through existing instruments

Cooperation among immigration liaison officers (ILOs) should be facilitated and intensified to make better use of this information. ILO networks should be established as a priority in the African countries concerned and the Western Balkans. ICONet could function as an early warning system, in the coordination of return operations, and as a platform for information exchange for ILOs.

Operational cooperation and communication between Member States and Europol should be improved and reinforced. It should include exchange and joint analysis of intelligence data.

Carriers' liability

There should be an evaluation of measures taken in connection with the requirements imposed on carriers under:

  • the Carriers Liability Directive 2001/51/EC and
  • Council Directive 2004/82/EC on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data.

The forum set up in 2001 and composed of representatives of the Member States, the transport industry and humanitarian organisations, should explore possibilities of cooperation between migration authorities and carriers, and identify best practice in 2007.


The Hague Programme sets the agenda for stepping up the fight against all forms of illegal immigration in a number of policy areas: border security, illegal employment, return and cooperation with third countries.

Five years after the first communication on illegal immigration and six months after presenting the Policy Plan on Legal Migration, the Commission decided to focus on this crucial subject again by setting updated policy priorities and proposing specific measures in this Communication.

Addressing illegal immigration is an integral part of the EU's comprehensive and structural approach to effective migration management and complements recent policy initiatives in this area, such as the Policy Plan on Legal Migration, the Communication on Migration and Development, and the Communication proposing a Common Agenda for Integration.

Last updated: 03.12.2007