The total approach to migration decided upon by the European Commission in December 2005 aims at a coherent policy that concerns the most varied aspects of migration policy and touches upon associated areas of policy, such as foreign relations, development and employment as well as justice, freedom and security.
The total approach assumes firstly that potential migrants have a continuing interest in immigration, which will, if necessary, be achieved illegally ("migration pressure") and that this necessitates measures to control irregular migration. Secondly, it is assumed that, in view of an ageing and shrinking population, the EU will be reliant on immigration in order to ensure the dynamics and competitiveness of the European Economic Area.
"Once certain conditions have been met, such as cooperation on illegal migration and effective mechanisms for readmission, the objective could be to agree Mobility Packages with a number of interested third countries which would enable their citizens to have better access to the EU"
In general, European migration policy is dominated by a restrictive agenda of repelling, limiting and controlling immigration. At the beginning of 2002, the cabinet of ministers had adopted a plan of action to control illegal immigration and human trafficking. Above all, it encouraged the development of a joint visa and return policy, improved exchange of information and the coordination of control authorities, the setting up of a European border police, and a tightening of sanctions.
Since then, the political line of intensifying migration control has run throughout all relevant documents. A 2006 "Communication on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third country nationals" even proposes the establishment of so-called e-borders whereby immigrants and emigrants would be registered automatically by means of electronic, biometrically supported systems. According to this proposal, the automatic exchange of data between authorities that has already been introduced in some countries is to be transferred and employed generally throughout the European Union. Some proposals have already been implemented; as a consequence, the European border police FRONTEX commenced operations in 2005. Overall, it may be said that the only proposals for binding regulations have been measures for extending and tightening controls, and these are more readily received and implemented than proposals directed towards liberalisation.
The EU has allocated a total of EUR 4 billion from its budget for the framework programme "Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows" for the period 2007 to 2013. The priorities underlying this framework programme are reflected in the relative allocation of funding: the External Frontiers Fund is to receive EUR 1,820 million, the European Return Fund EUR 676 million, the European Refugee Fund EUR 699 million, and the European Integration Fund EUR 825 million.
Considerable investment and expenditure on a European and nation-state level is being put into the standardisation of the border control regime required by expansion. It is by no means certain that these funds are being used effectively or efficiently as indicated by the example of the proposal for a directive providing for sanctions against employers that was presented in May 2007.