Statewatch article: RefNo# 2677
EU: Tampere: Globalising immigration controls
Statewatch bulletin vol 9 no 5 (September-October 1999)
The "action plans" of the High Level Group on asylum and migration target six third world countries who will be subjected to economic and political pressure to agree to the EUís readmission plans to expel migrants

The Tampere European Council of 15-16 October 1999 began the institutionalisation within the EU structures of policies which turn refugee-producing countries into immigration police, completing the process which started in the 1980s with "Fortress Europe" and developed through the creation of buffer states around Europe. The new policies pass responsibility for prevention of immigration to the countries of origin of refugees and migrants and the countries through which they pass, through the adoption of action plans tying trade and aid with prevention and return of "refugee flows". Internally, the Tampere Council saw the foundations of a "single European asylum system" to ensure identical treatment of refugees no matter where they go in Europe.

The arrival in Italy and Greece in late 1997 and the beginning of 1998 of significant numbers of Iraqi Kurds who had travelled by sea from Turkey galvanised the EU into the drafting of an action plan to ensure that such an "influx" did not recur. The plan, entitled "Influx of migrants from Iraq and the neighbouring region", equated asylum-seekers with illegal immigrants (the phrase "illegal refugees" was coined), and was firmly aimed at prevention, recommending the increased use of liaison officers working with carriers to stop suspects from boarding, and of universal fingerprinting of illegal entrants, to make identification and return easier. The Iraq action plan proposed the return of these "illegal refugees" to "safe areas in the region of origin" (meaning Turkey and Jordan).

Austrian strategy paper

The Action Plan on Iraq was drafted for wider application, and it was followed up in mid-1998 with Austria's strategy paper. This gained notoriety for its assertion that the Geneva Convention was outdated and that individual rights of asylum should be replaced by "political offers" of finite protection by Member States. Its frankness was too much for other national governments, and it was shelved. But its approach to migration strategy has been seized on and developed. The Austrian plan proposed an integrated approach, linking trade, development and migration policy with countries of origin and transit of refugees and migrants. "It is impossible to take decisions on Iraq, Pakistan, former Yugoslavia or Turkey", it commented, "without taking into account the plainly visible tide of illegal migration". The EU "must use its economic and political muscle" to enforce return and readmission agreements with countries of origin and transit. "Progress in these areas should serve as an important criterion when development aid decisions are taken."

These passages from the first draft of the Austrian strategy paper did not survive scrutiny by other member states, and were cut from the second draft of September 1998. But it is precisely these ideas which have been developed in the action plans which were prepared, building on the model of the Iraq plan, on five more countries or regions which were major sources of migrants or refugees: Afghanistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Albania (later extended to include Kosovo). A different member state was responsible for drafting each action plan (the UK took Sri Lanka), and the idea was to produce a cross-pillar, multi-disciplinary approach to immigration and asylum which would ensure that action in foreign policy, development aid and trade was coordinated with migration policy. The Iraq plan was to be revised accordingly.

The six action plans were adopted by the General Affairs Council just before Tampere without any debate (the report and "action plans" went through as an "A" point). The plans, five final and the sixth, on Albania and Kosovo, described as "interim", contain thorough analysis of the dem

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