After the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, the EC Treaty will in Title IV provide the base for the development within a small number of years of EC immigration and asylum law. This is a unique opportunity to model common rules in this field according to two basic principles underlying EC law: respect for the individual and the rule of law.However, EC Member States already adopted a large number of legal instruments relating to immigration and asylum. In this article it is investigated whether the existing acquis is suited to implement the new Title IV EC. Therefore, the acquis will be dealt with in two ways. First, a description will be given of the different ‘sources’ of European immigration and asylum law: the Amsterdam Treaty itself, the pre-Maastricht and Third Pillar acquis, the Schengen acquis and a number of proposals of the European Commission. Then the same legal instruments will be regrouped according to subject and an attempt will be made to sketch the features of existing European law with regard to abolition of internal border control, common external border control, asylum, admission and residence. Here, it will appear what the ambiguity of the past — the desire to control the number of persons coming to Europe through cooperation with other EC Member States but without restriction to sovereign powers — has brought about, or has failed to bring about. Respect for the individual and for the rule of law is no basic principle underlying the existing acquis.This article was concluded in November 1998.