Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

Opinion

Managing migration: a European responsibility

  • "In the months to come, we will continue to come forth with new, creative ideas that can help drive solutions in this area," writes Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for migration. (Photo: European Commission)

Europe continues to face migratory pressures, but the difference between now and just two years ago is like night and day.

The European Commission is not just discovering this issue now.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • EU countries are expected to say by September how many refugees they would be willing to resettle over the next year. (Photo: Save the Children)

When Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker took office, he created the position of EU migration commissioner because he knew that migration had to be the number one priority for our mandate.

I was proud to take up the challenge and, since then, we have been working together on a European approach to dealing with migration. We have already made enormous progress - achieving more in the past two years than what was possible in the twenty before it.

From saving lives at sea, to tackling the root causes of migration, to reducing flows by working with third-country partners, to protecting our borders with the new European Border and Coast Guard, to opening safe and legal pathways of resettlement, to showing solidarity at home to the most affected member states, and abroad to neighbouring countries hosting large numbers of refugees - our comprehensive approach is already showing concrete results.

Progressively, a more united approach for dealing with migration is emerging. But there is still work to be done to build up the trust between us and forge a coherent and comprehensive way of both reaping the benefits and addressing the challenges of migration in the long-term.

The Mediterranean Route

Supporting our most affected member states and stemming flows along the Central Mediterranean Route is on the top of our agenda.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, we brought the situation under control.

Since the EU-Turkey Statement was agreed in March 2016, the daily crossing from Turkey to Greece went down from 10,000 in a single day in October 2015 to an average of around 80 a day.

Overall, arrivals to the Greek islands from Turkey have dropped by 97%.

But Libya is not Turkey and we cannot have the same type of arrangement with Libya as we do with Turkey.

Instead, our action in the Central Mediterranean has to focus on saving lives at sea, working to improve conditions where we can in Libya, helping migrants stranded there to return to their countries of origin, and discouraging illegal and dangerous boat crossings.

One crucial piece of the puzzle in achieving this is opening up safe and legal pathways for genuine refugees. Europe must still live up to its humanitarian obligation to assist those fleeing war and persecution.

In July, we asked all EU countries to tell us, by September, how many refugees they would be willing to resettle from Libya and the neighbouring countries over the next year. The EU will continue to support these efforts, mobilising €10,000 for every person a member state resettles.

Member state support

I hope that all member states will contribute to these efforts to stem flows along the Central Mediterranean Route.

They can do this by contributing more funds to the EU-Africa Trust Fund to address the root causes of migration, contributing personnel to the EU agencies active in Italy and opening up places for the legal resettlement of genuine refugees directly from Libya and the neighbouring countries.

We already have some positive examples, such as our cooperation with Niger, which has drastically reduced transit flows through the country, but which now need to be reproduced elsewhere.

Another crucial element remains return and readmission. This is where the EU now needs to bring its weight to bear, to ensure non-EU countries cooperate on taking back their nationals arriving as economic migrants.

Going forward, we need to be bolder. Our visa policy could, for example, be used as leverage, if needed, on countries such as Bangladesh, to speed up the readmission of migrants arriving in Italy. I trust we will be able to count on the member states' support in these efforts.

In the months to come, we will continue to come forth with new, creative ideas that can help drive solutions in this area. And we will continue to press ahead to reach a balanced compromise on the reform of EU asylum law.

For the Commission, this compromise has to be based on everyone showing solidarity, and must be in the interest of the whole European Union.

I am confident that together we can live up to the challenge of migration. More than that, if we work together, I am convinced that we can reap the benefits.

Dimitris Avramopoulos is the European Commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Refugees in limbo on Greek island

Out of sight and out of space: a volunteer documents the conditions, and the state of limbo experienced by refugees on the Greek island of Chios.

Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?

Disputes between member states, notably Germany, highlight the lack of coordination among national industrial capabilities for a European Defence Industrial Strategy — which may include the EU's first ever defence commissioner.

Latest News

  1. Podcast: Hyperlocal meets supranational
  2. Von der Leyen appeals for 'new EU defence mindset'
  3. EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it
  4. Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?
  5. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  6. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  7. MEPs adopt new transparency rules for political ads
  8. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us