ENS welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the debate launched by the European Commission on the future of EU Home Affairs policies, and in particular to promote improved protection for stateless persons – an issue that hitherto has not received adequate attention at the European Union level or in the framing of Home Affairs legislation and policy under previous programmes. The time is now ripe to address this relative lack of attention and action.
There are over 400,000 stateless people living in the European Union and several hundred thousand more in the EU’s neighbours to the East and across the Mediterranean. A relatively small minority has arrived within the mixed migration flows into the EU, and was either stateless prior to departure from the country of origin or has since become stateless. The hitherto slow-paced development of effective identification and protection mechanisms for stateless migrants means that they are among the most vulnerable people in Europe, often facing years of uncertainty, destitution and repeated, lengthy immigration detention. Yet, the majority of stateless people who call the EU home were born here and are stateless in the only country they have ever known. Despite their strong and evident ties to their country of residence, they are not recognised as nationals and remain excluded from both the protection that nationality offers and the benefits of EU citizenship.
Statelessness presents a significant challenge for EU migration management, while also being a ‘home-grown’ problem that threatens the inclusive aspirations of EU citizenship. Statelessness has become an issue with regard to which not just EU member states, but also EU institutions, are increasingly aware of the need for concerted action. On the occasion of the debate on the future agenda for DG Home Affairs, ENS urges the Commission to include the issue of statelessness more prominently within its strategic planning and consideration. This submission provides a brief overview of some of the ways in which statelessness already features in the work of or debate in the EU institutions, as well as potential scope to expand activities.
The submission is structured around the following themes: Responding to statelessness in the migration context, statelessness and EU citizenship, the eradication of statelessness in the EU, and statelessness in EU foreign policy.