Monday

25th Jun 2018

Opinion

EU needs greater input from refugee groups

  • The need for new mechanisms to involve refugees and local authorities has become more pressing than ever. (Photo: Reuters)

Last year was another prolific one in the field of European migration and refugee affairs, both in terms of the levels of flows (and in particular the rising numbers of deaths at sea) and the launch of several new EU policy initiatives.

However, despite their often innovative nature, many of these initiatives, in particular the EU-Turkey migration agreement and the externalisation of the EU’s border control strategy through the negotiation of Migration Partnerships with a range of largely undemocratic countries of origin and transit, have attracted severe criticism from a number of migration policy experts and NGOs.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

This is in addition to the continuing failure of the EU Relocation Plan and the suspension by a number of member states of some of their key legal obligations in the field of EU migration policy, not least the implementation of the Dublin and Schengen rules.

Why have most recent EU policy decisions in the field of migration met with such mixed reactions among experts and public opinion?

One question that has rarely been addressed is whether the current EU decision-making processes have sufficiently involved all the key players. In particular, the effects of the very limited involvement of refugee organisations and local authorities and the extent to which their full engagement could build greater consensus on the future directions of EU migration policy, have largely been overlooked to date.

This is despite the fact that a number of refugee organisations in Europe are already contributing to the reception and integration effort in most member states, albeit on a mostly ad hoc and largely uncoordinated basis. What is more, they have first-hand knowledge of, and practical insights into, a number of areas covered by EU policy initiatives.

Similarly, local and regional authorities are clearly at the forefront of reception and integration policies in such critical areas as housing, education and employment for recognised migrants and refugees.

The need for new mechanisms to involve refugees and local authorities in some of the EU policy decision-making processes on migration and asylum policy has therefore become more pressing than ever.

One such mechanism, which would need to be duly laid out and refined, would consist of establishing, in each member state, a task force bringing together representatives from local authorities, refugee organisations and relevant humanitarian NGOs and international organisations (UNHCR and IOM).

The task forces would provide advice on the design of new EU policy initiatives, and give feedback on ongoing policies and programmes. They would meet regularly at the EU level in order to agree EU-wide policy positions and proposals, and would advise in such areas as:

- The types of programmes, specific geographic areas and implementing entities that would benefit the most from new EU aid interventions in the refugees’ countries of origin (particularly under the recently adopted Migration Partnership Framework).

- The selection of EU-funded projects in the member states, particularly under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) which was allocated €3.1 billion for the period 2014-20.

- Practical insights into the constantly evolving modus operandi of smugglers in key countries of origin and transit. 

- Ways to facilitate the resettlement of new refugees, including on the basis of their employability and therefore on the basis of practical insights from local authorities and employers, taking account of the fact that over 80 percent of first-time asylum applicants in Europe are under the age of 35.

- Advice on/contribution to media reporting on the ongoing EU refugee crisis, particularly in terms of fact-checking and terminology.

The establishment of the national task forces and of such a systematic consultative mechanism would not require any EU legal amendment or entail any significant financial cost. However, it would no doubt contribute to extending the range of qualified and legitimate voices that could aptly input into the design of future EU migration policy initiatives and therefore could reduce potentially the current level of dissension in this critical policy area.

Solon Ardittis is managing director of Eurasylum and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). He is also co-editor of ‘Migration Policy Practice’, a bimonthly journal published jointly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Magazine

Refugee crisis, the vain search for solidarity

The EU's migration policy in 2016 was marked by a record number of deaths at the Mediterranean and deep rifts among member states on how to handle asylum.

Rutte - from 'Mr No' to 'next Tusk'?

Make no mistake – Rutte, sometimes considered as a potential candidate to succeed Donald Tusk, is one of the toughest of the EU's current heads of state.

Progressive CAP alternative only hope for sustainability

We see the new CAP as spelling the death of rural communities, the acceleration of the rural exodus, the consolidation of big agribusinesses, jeopardising public health standards and turning binding climate change targets into optional goals for member states.

Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China

There is not a single European company among the world's top 10 computer hardware companies. Within the EU, Germany and Sweden rank among world leaders, but Bulgaria and Slovakia among the worst-performing developed nations.

The risks behind the 'green bond' boom

The EU should not overuse the financial system in order to achieve environmental goals, or it risks the emergence of a green bond bubble which would be detrimental to the financial sector and hinder the achievement of climate targets.

EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'

The subject is mandatory by law in some form in nearly all EU countries - but it is mostly reproduction- and biology-centred, covering topics such as unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections.

Long-distance animal transport: unthinkable still happening

A complete overhaul of animal products' supply chains is needed, privileging local food chains including local slaughtering which is proven to benefit the environment, the resilience of our economy, food safety and animal welfare.

News in Brief

  1. EP civil liberties committee votes for Article 7 on Hungary
  2. Report blames 2017 egg scare on lax EU enforcement
  3. Nine countries to sign up for Macron's military initiative
  4. Re-elected Erdogan potentially in power until 2028
  5. Macron's popularity drops among French pensioners
  6. Tajani calls for €6bn investment to halt migration
  7. Major demo in London for second EU referendum
  8. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  2. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  4. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  5. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  7. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  11. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  12. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform

Latest News

  1. Rutte - from 'Mr No' to 'next Tusk'?
  2. UN offers to help EU's migrant 'disembarkation' plan
  3. Progressive CAP alternative only hope for sustainability
  4. Ponytailed green MEP joins 'the other side of the table'
  5. EU leaders still in search of migration plan
  6. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  7. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  8. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  3. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  5. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  8. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  10. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  11. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us