Sunday

29th Mar 2020

Opinion

Europe's migration system is broken: Renew has a plan

  • Migration and asylum is of great concern to our citizens. They rightly expect from us that we act, that we can show them we are in control (Photo: Mustafa Jado)

The 2015 crisis made clear that the EU was unprepared for such a large number of migrants and refugees reaching our borders and that our European migration and asylum policy is not fit for purpose.

With massive population growth expected in many African countries and little indication of the security situation improving in the Middle East and the Sahel, migration towards Europe is likely to increase in the coming years.

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We cannot simply cross our fingers and hope a future crisis will be avoided. We should face the fact that our current migration and asylum system is broken and we need more than a plaster to fix it.

More than a sticking plaster

Europe is currently unprepared for a potential repeat of events and this makes us vulnerable to the whims of external and neighbouring countries, it fuels political manipulation and creates a climate of uncertainty for citizens across Europe.

It is time for European policymakers to sit down together and create a system that can stand the test of time.

This is why Renew Europe decided to take the lead ahead of the new European Commission's pact on migration and asylum and propose a vision of its own.

This vision is not about 'more' or 'less' migration. It is about proposals that are future-proof, comprehensive and ambitious, showing our citizens we are in control through a humane and pragmatic way forward.

In May 2019, European citizens gave us a clear mandate to find a sustainable way forward. We have the joint responsibility to act upon those expectations.

Working on a new approach to migration and asylum is in everyone's interest. By building sustainable partnerships with third countries, we can ensure dignified shelter and reception facilities for refugees close to the home they had to flee.

We also need to improve the completion of resettlement programmes. That way, fewer people will feel that their only option is to embark on dangerous and often fatal journeys across the Mediterranean Sea and fall prey to smugglers and traffickers.

A more coordinated European approach to member state's labour migration policies certainly is in the interest of our businesses and economy.

Therefore, we should create a European talent-pool, matching skills with actual skill gaps and demand in the member states. The EU must be more ambitious and develop a points-system whereby we ease circular labour migration and thereby stimulate brain gain instead of brain drain in third countries.

And by enhancing safe and legal pathways to the EU, we also lessen the pressure on our borders, where people seeking for jobs in Europe often apply for asylum.

We need to make our asylum policy work across Europe. This means European reception centres at main points of irregular arrival in the EU to provide dignified reception and provide first screenings.

Via the establishment of a carefully-calibrated filter, the period of uncertainty for asylum seekers will be shortened and operational effectiveness will be strengthened.

We also need a solidarity mechanism that delivers. Asylum procedures to be further streamlined among member states to enhance swift and adequate decisions.

The fact that asylum applications are not automatically followed by return and readmission, poses a strain on authorities but also on the people in question.

The EU must enhance its efforts increase voluntary returns and readmission and simultaneously make sure return decisions are implemented, for example through mutual recognition of return decisions.

The failure of successful integration of migrants and refugees granted stay in Europe puts the entire asylum and migration policy at risk. Member states have to step up their integration policies.

Finally, it is in the interest of us Europeans to make migration policy a cornerstone of the EU's external policy. Because migration is not an isolated issue but a topic that interlinks with our foreign policy, our trade policy and our labour policy.

Migration and asylum is of great concern to our citizens. They rightly expect from us that we act, that we can show them we are in control. We need to have the courage to search for common ground and workable solutions.

The Renew Europe Group is ready to take that responsibility and be a solid partner in these discussions. In return, we wish to see an ambitious overhaul of current arrangements and the development of a true migration and asylum pact. For this decade and the next.

Author bio

Malik Azmani is a Dutch MEP and first vice-president of the Renew Europe group and Jan-Christoph Oetjen, a German MEP for Renew Europe.

Disclaimer

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

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