OF EUROPEAN MINISTERS
RESPONSIBLE FOR MIGRATION AFFAIRS
(Helsinki, 16-17 September 2002)
PRELIMINARY DRAFT FINAL DECLARATION
1. The 7th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Migration Affairs was held in Helsinki on 16 and 17 September 2002 at the invitation of the Finnish government, with the Finnish Minister of Ö, Mr/Ms Ö in the Chair.
2. The Conference elected Ö, Minister (country, ministry) Vice-Chair.
The Conference was attended by Ministers of the Council of Europe member states or their representatives as well as their counterparts from Canada, the Holy See, Japan, Mexico, the United States of America, Australia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and representatives of the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The CCME, ICMC, IOM, Budapest Group, etc also attended the Conference as observers.
The general theme of the conference was:
ėMigrants in our societies: policy choices for the 21st centuryî.
The Ministers discussed the challenges to be addressed in connection with integration policies and with migration management and ways of dealing with them (future policies and action plan).
BEING AWARE THAT
1. Over the last century Europe has become a destination for immigration in all its forms and that the large number of immigrants on European soil is an asset which makes a major contribution to the continentís cultural diversity;
2. the Council of Europe provides European states with the ideal forum in which to devise a consensus-based migration policy, which should be founded on principles shared by the whole continent;
3. since the Sixth Conference of Ministers responsible for Migration Affairs, held in Warsaw in 1996, the project launched by the Conference held on the theme ėTensions and tolerance: building better integrated communities across Europeî has led to such achievements as the ėStrategies for implementing integration policiesî (Prague 1999), the report on ėDiversity and cohesion: new challenges for the integration of immigrants and minoritiesî and the ėFramework of integration policiesî (Namur, 2000), and to progress in the management of migration in greater Europe with the publication of the reference work ėTowards a Migration Management Strategyî and the Athens Conference on illegal migration and the dignity of migrants (October 2001);
4. considerable progress has been made with achieving the objectives set at the 2nd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, October 1997) with a view to harmonising migration management in Europe, but there is still much to be done to adapt national legislation and policies to the situation in Europe today and to the continentís current needs;
5. since the events of 11 September 2001, there has been a tendency for member states to become more isolationist for security reasons and this has resulted in cuts in integration programmes in some member states;
6. nonetheless, the authorities must play a part in ensuring that the majority population does not associate immigration with extremism, and an overall, coherent integration policy can prevent this kind of distorted thinking;
7. migration management requires consideration of the fundamental causes of migration and push and pull factors, particularly the impact on migration trends of social and economic development in countries of origin;
8. illegal migration may pose a threat to the social cohesion of host countries;
9. one of the most appalling aspects of illegal migration is trafficking in individuals, which concerns the most vulnerable people, particularly women and/or children;
10. persecution, human rights violations and political, ethnic and religious conflicts in various parts of the world force millions of people to flee their country and apply for asylum in other countries, including the Council of Europe member states, which, in recent years, have received an increasing number of applications for refugee status;
11. immigrants often know very little about legal rules and the situation in host countries, particularly as regards their rights and duties;
1. freedom of movement is a human right;
2. all people, whatever their status, must enjoy human rights, minimum subsistence rights, and respect for their dignity as human beings;
3. the right of asylum is a fundamental right and, as such, is protected and guaranteed by the Geneva Convention of 1951;
4. social cohesion must be forged in a spirit of fellow-feeling among all the members of society, including immigrants, who are part of our society and have contributed to our current prosperity;
1. HR: apply the Council of Europeís principles, which are based on respect for fundamental rights, the integration of immigrants and migration management;
2. promoting HR: support countries of origin in their efforts to promote growth which respects human rights, the rule of law and the principles of democracy and stable government;
3. economic support: support economic development in immigrantsí countries of origin and transit countries, by contributing 0.7% of their GDP;
4. migration management: implement a full migration management strategy based on that described in the report ėTowards a Migration Management Strategyî;
integration, non-discrimination, legal status (NB: little concerning integration)
5. combat violence, discrimination and harassment directed against immigrants;
6. implement Recommendation (2000) 15 concerning the security of residence of long-term migrants and the Draft Recommendation on the legal status of persons admitted for family reunification;
7. encourage the full involvement of immigrants in local life as provided for in the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS 144);
8. pursue an open and transparent policy as regards labour migration, drawing up rules on the legal status of temporary workers wherever needed;
9. refugees: reiterate its commitment to honour the obligations arising from the 1951 Convention and the 1967 protocol to it, [in full and genuine accordance with the object and the aim of these international instruments for the protection of refugees] and ensure that any special procedure aimed at simplifying and/or accelerating the decision-making process respects individualsí rights and dignity;
10. grant subsidiary protection to anyone who does not meet the requirements for refugee status of the 1951 convention or 1967 protocol but is in need of international protection;
11. give more detailed consideration to the possibility of temporary protection in the event of sudden, mass influxes of refugees and other persons in need of temporary protection, and devise common rules to allow the persons concerned to request and receive protection with due respect for their fundamental human rights and dignity;
12. voluntary return: harmonise conditions for the termination of temporary protection, guarantee access to the asylum application procedure at this point, and establish rules for the voluntary return of displaced persons in an organised, well-spread-out and co-ordinated manner with the support of the international organisations concerned;
13. return of rejected persons, expulsion: facilitate the return to their country of origin of persons who do not fulfil the criteria for protection, when the local situation allows, in a dignified and safe manner respecting human rights;
14. situation of illegal immigrants: combat all forms of abuse in respect of illegal immigrants, who carry out tasks which no-one in the host country wants to do, and seek flexible, humane solutions which respect the human dignity of these people;
15. improve the exchange of information and promote closer co-operation between member states, transit countries, countries of origin and international organisations to combat illegal immigration, underground networks and trafficking in human beings;
16. devise national policies and action plans to provide full protection and assistance to the victims of trafficking, particularly women and unaccompanied minors, by, for instance, setting up independent, national centres with specialised knowledge in this area (punishing traffickers and helping victims);
17. information for preventive purposes: provide information to potential migrants on political and legal systems (regulations on immigration), the labour market situation, culture, etc in as transparent and clear a form as possible (translated into the immigrantís language);
18. political campaign: ensure that political leaders do not use immigration issues to attract votes.
Action plan (to be added later)
 Participating states: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, ėthe former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaî, Turkey and the United Kingdom.