The European Union was founded upon four basic freedoms. The freedom of movement among member states is required to observe of all member states. In line with these freedoms established in 1957 and the continuous enlargement of the Union, it has been necessary to amend national laws of member states with regards to immigration; this has seen immigration laws in the EU transform tremendously. It is worth noting that laws pertaining to immigration concentrated on nationals of the EC, but these freedoms were later extended to apply to all EC residents in accordance with Article 18 of the EC Treaty. It has been clear of late that the union is moving towards ensuring that all laws regarding immigration are ‘europeanionized’. This has been apparent following the shift from the member country determination of asylum and immigration concerns (under the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) pillar) to push for common and uniform laws for all members (Seddon 2006).
The initial determinants for immigration laws were member states; initially, the EU only required co-ordination of the laws but not complete uniformity in their formulation and application. The JHA pillar, formed under the EU Treaty, ran the program on an intergovernmental basis, in which the institutions within the EU had no actual mandate in determining the immigration decisions; they stayed in the periphery of the decisions. The Europeanization of immigration laws begun in 1999, when Title IV of the European Union Treaty took over the mandate of JHA regarding immigration and asylum. However, this process has not passed without resistance and national concerns. It has been clear that members are still reluctant to give over their control of boarders and immigration. This has indicated that immigration issues, indeed, touch on national sovereignty and image (Seddon 2006).
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Upon shifting for JHA to Title IV, immigration laws have been shaped to follow the European model outlined in Article 14 as the EC Treaty requires. Consequently, immigration rules are no longer left to member states; however, there have been many issues in the wake of this move, which pertain to discrimination, different interpretations, and ad hoc application of the rules. For instance, the UK, Denmark, and Ireland do not comply with Title IV, yet they have an option of ‘opting to comply’ (with the exception of Denmark which does not have such ability to opt, as it takes part on the basis of Schengen acquis) (Great Britain 2006). Cyprus, on the other hand, is yet to receive full rights over Schengen, while other members are still using national guidelines to determine whom to let in and out.
Seddon (2006) notes that despite this shortcoming, it is fair to note that the process of Europeanization of immigration laws started in 1999 continues to date. The JHA, which was charged with the mandate of ensuring that the goals envisaged in Title IV were met, is actively involved in this function. The goals of JHA are ensuring formation of partnerships with countries of immigrants’ origin; fair treatment of third country nationals; creation of a common European system of asylum and uniform management of migration flows to a country. The Tampere Conclusions (as this agreement was referred to) raised human rights concerns. This is especially so with regards to the fair treatment of immigrants from third party countries and offering asylum to immigrants. As a response to the human rights issue, the European Council followed the Tampere conclusions with the creation of a financial and technical support program for third country immigrants and asylum seekers.
It is therefore fair to conclude that, despite some individual autonomy on national level, the process of making immigration laws as a uniformly conceptualized idea has been ongoing. The Tampere agreements were followed by the Hague Program, which is more detailed on the area. The program envisaged to cover a period of 5 years from 2005 to 2010 and encouraged a comprehensive approach with particular emphasis on economy and partnerships. The debates and Europeanization go on in the Hague program. However, the aspects left to national governments remain vital to immigration law, especially in the recognition that entrants to a state affect its social balance, cohesion, and national security, among other aspects (Seddon 2006).
Question 1 B): Cyprus and Europeanization of Immigration Laws
According to Steiner et al. (2009), Cyprus has witnessed many immigrants owing to its rapid economic growth since the 90s and its low level of unemployment. This issue can also be tied to the apparent aging demographic profile in the EU, which requires immigrants supplying young and cheap labour force. The number of immigrants into Cyprus has risen tremendously from 2.5 % to 6.8% of the total labour force. In light of this, it is imperative to remember that Cyprus is a member of the EU and therefore is bound by the immigration laws stipulated by the EU’s Title IV, Hague program, Tampere Conclusions, and the ongoing Europeanization of immigration laws. In line with these requirements, Cyprus has put tremendous efforts to comply with EU’s laws through amending its laws pertaining to immigration (Steiner et al. 2009).
However, there have been significant problems with its immigration procedure on the area of fairness and offering asylum, among others. The Tampere conclusions require EU members to treat third country members fairly and extend the freedom of residence to them as well. However, Cyprus laws continue to prohibit entrance into the country on the basis of seeking asylum. The conditions of entry into Cyprus may not be seen as directly contradicting EU’s law, but they can be referred to as defeating the fulfilment of the acquis requirements. For instance, Cyprus only employs immigrants as semi-skilled workers, restricts their residence to some locations, and only allows few into the formal sector. This contradicts EU’s Tampere conclusions of fairness to immigrants (Steiner et al. 2009).
Another area indicating Cyprus’ non-compliance relates to its lack of a comprehensive immigrant employment policy. It continues to treat the issues as temporary despite the high number of immigrants. In addition, Cyprus continues to complicate its visa processing to periods of over three months despite the requirement to harmonize visa issuance; this would defeat any asylum seekers’ hope for entry. The amendments to Aliens and Immigration Laws also have done little supporting EU’s requirements. They continue to allow residence to third country immigrants for periods not exceeding 3 months, yet the EU extended equal rights to all EU residents. Moreover, Cyprus only issues 5-day visas for transit of individuals, prohibits entry in a discriminatory way (it prohibits giving visas to poor or sick people), and continues to craftily evade international obligations. Thus, this paper concludes that Cyprus has a lot to be done in complying with EU’s immigration law (Trimikliniotis 2003).
Question 5: EU Permanent Residence Permits and Exclusion of Third Country Workers
The republic of Cyprus has eased its earlier positions on issuing permanent residence permits in accordance with the EU’s 2007 proposal. Under this proposal, the EU directs that member states should offer permanent residence permits to third-party individuals seeking employment with high qualification. The EU viewed this move as a complimentary approach into attaining its goals in the Lisbon strategy meant to improve regional economic competitiveness. However, this move is met with criticism and scepticism that will only lead to greater degree of discrimination against the poor and unskilled. However, this paper argues against and for this; it analyzes the EU structure of the proposal and proposals that are complimentary to it and concludes that it is a good starting, while acknowledging that the unskilled are left out (Adams et al. 2009).
This paper views the proposal as seeking to allow for proper and easier labour movement within the region, which is a logical move given its aging demographic profile. The EU requires member states to fast track the admission of such qualified individuals and to offer them a set minimum salary that is fair. It came to an agreement with member states to offer the highly qualified individuals a minimum salary of no less than three times the minimum national wage. It also came up with the Blue Card that stipulates an immigrant’s conditions of work, stay, extends him/her the right of entry and re-entry, among others. The move is particularly helpful even to Cyprus since it is a growing economy requiring skilled workforce. Since only a few immigrants from Jordan work in the formal sector, this paper argues that the proposal will elevate immigrants into admission into the skilled labour market. Therefore, it is deemed positive to such extents (Adams et al. 2009).
On the other hand, the move can well be seen as discriminatory and one that fails to address important needs of the lower segment. This follows from the fact that third country immigrants are mostly poorly paid in Cyprus. Statistics indicate that immigrants working in the domestic segment are highly vulnerable to mistreatment, poor pay, and abuse, among other violations. Due to the short-term contracts and the low profile sector in which they work in, they lack social insurance. In addition, evidence indicates that Cyprus is known for carrying out mass arrests of immigrants based on colour. Therefore, it may be argued that the new proposal’s failure to address this reality despite having led to the amendment of the law on Permanent Resident Permits in Cyprus is facing unacceptable shortcomings. This study appreciates that the amendment will benefit highly skilled and well-off immigrants, but emphasizes that the state of the poor-unskilled is left as before. Since the proposal does not compel Cyprus or any member states to improve the pay of the immigrants in the category of not highly qualified, the shortcomings merit criticism and review (Adams et al. 2009).
Adams et al. (2009) opine that it is imperative to appreciate that, by failing to address the lower and poor immigrant’s plight, the EU Blue Card proposal falls short immensely. However, he insists that it cannot be trashed as unacceptable because the move has some positive aspects to it, inclusive of solving some immigration issues, though for the upper segment alone. In addition, he states that the argument of brain drain may not hold since the very nature of integration fosters competitiveness in all areas among the member states. Thus, it is incumbent upon the EU states (poor or rich) to raise their standards in the labour market to attract the best talent. As a compliment to the proposal, though not entirely addressing the lower and poor segment, the EU proposal for Single Permit and Common Rights Directive that followed the Highly Qualified Migrants directive, may improve poor immigrants’ conditions in Cyprus and others states once fully operationalized.
The world has experienced upheavals, such as North Africa, which has not spared the European region from a crisis of high immigrant flows. In an attempt to deal with this situation harmoniously, it has turned the zone into a technological fortress. Through the EUROSUR bill that aims at putting up a system that will survey the European boarders, various issues have arise attached to this proposal. Central to this debate is the aspect of human rights that the surveillance and the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will have on enjoyment of human rights (Brouwer 2008).
To start with, the smart boarder proposal is expected to create queues and delays as verification of individuals will take place. In addition, the use of drones to monitor the sea regions and repel any vessel carrying immigrants might deny needy individuals access to European countries. The effects will be impactful on rights to asylum; this is because the system will lack human aspects that are able to assess the situation despite the proposal containing issues concerning the verification by appointed individuals. In addition, for the system to function, there should be a central database and a common data sharing centre that may pool together private information and share it among different states. The implication is thus laden with the ability to violate rights to private information in case of sharing. The issue of individuals with access to such data is also in doubt; this makes the concerns over sharing of private information more pronounced (Brouwer 2008).
In addition to the privacy concerns, the proposal has not addressed sufficiently the issue of privacy, since the biometrics proposal involves processing of personal information. The concerns over biometrics pertain to a proposal to use drone surveillance, which infringes on privacy. The proposal, despite prescribing the ability to reduce loss of lives at sea and illegal immigration, fails to sufficiently address the limits to which such aspirations should go in areas of human rights and privacy. The rigorous scrutiny is also contradictory to the presumption of innocence, since it quietly assumes wrongdoing on any immigrant until otherwise proven (Brouwer 2008).
In relation to Cyprus, there is a National Coordination Centre, which has a mandate to use biometrically processed data in situational pictures. This implies that private information of ship crew, owners, criminals, victims, refugees, or anybody in the vicinity of surveillance could be made public without regard to privacy. Thus, this study concludes that since biometrics involves the use of behavioural and physiological aspects of an individual, and it is not well regulated as to when, who, and what limits they can have, there is a potential for human rights violation. In addition, the information can also be used for reasons other than those it was purposefully collected for, since no rules actually limit such; this also constitutes is a human rights issue. The study also adds that Cyprus has not dealt with the issue any better, but has used the information in a manner suggesting that it is a human right concern.
Question 6B): Schengen and Cyprus
Schengen covers the entire EU member territories apart from Ireland and UK and was formed in 1985. In addition to the two, Cyprus is not a full member of the Schengen agreement since the EC is yet to decide on the issue of lifting the border controls. This could be due to the fact that Cyprus is a relatively young member of the union, because its accession partners have already joined Schengen fully. However, Cyprus is still expected to fulfil some rules of the Schengen region, as this formed part of its accession requirements. Thus, Cyprus has to respect the rules of Schengen acquis for it to continue being a member according to the conditions of its accession (Cholewinski 2002).
According to Cholewinski (2002), the Schengen acquis aims at maintaining open borders and strictly abolishes discrimination on workers of member states. However, the provision against discrimination does not include workers from third countries. They are thus subjected to this discrimination, since the acquis offers them no protection. This exclusionary approach should be amended. It is also imperative to protect member states’ workers and leave third country immigrants prone to violations.
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