Friday

22nd Nov 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join 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.

Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong

As EU foreign affairs ministers meet in Brussels, we have seen unarmed protestors in Hong Kong shot at point blank range, others bloody and beaten, and then incarcerated over the border in mainland China in prison camps.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament votes on new commission next week
  2. Berlusconi wants Europe to be a military global power
  3. Orban ordered to apologise over 'misleading' Soros survey
  4. EPP to decide on expelling Fidesz by end of January
  5. Rowdy anti-corruption protest in Malta
  6. Ambassador: Trump ordered Ukraine election meddling
  7. EU links Libyan government to human trafficking
  8. Greek PM on migration: 'Greece has reached its limits'

EU investment bank 'wide open to abuse by fraudsters'

Fundamental reforms are needed if the EIB is to become more accountable, democratic and transparent. Establishing a firm grasp on corruption to ensure that public money no longer feeds corrupt systems is a vital first step.

European beekeeping in crisis

Europe's bee population is dying. The number of pollinator species threatened by extinction is increasing each year, and human activity is the main cause.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. EPP congress pledges 'moderate' climate solution
  2. EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans
  3. New EU financial instruments needed
  4. Binding measures to expand gender balance
  5. Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong
  6. EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration
  7. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  8. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us