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Seven emergency measures to get a grip on the refugee crisis

  • "Let’s not wait another three months to get a grip on the border between Turkey and Greece; Europe has to manage it now with an emergency force of 2000 border guards,” said Guy Verhofstadt. (Photo: ALDE)

ALDE Group leader, Guy Verhofstadt, and vice president of the European Parliament, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, presented on 29 January an emergency plan to get a grip on the refugee crisis.

Liberals and Democrats consider that Europe is in an emergency situation and call on the European Council to adopt seven emergency measures on the 18th of February:

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Immediate action to manage the border between Turkey and Greece:

1. Create a European Rapid Refugee Emergency Force (ERREF) with 2000 border guards comprised of European and national civil servants to manage the Greek border, the registration and screening of the refugees and to provide them with decent living conditions.

2. Fast-track the set-up of the European Border and Coast Guard (ECBG), multiply the budget for border protection by five and overhaul Europe`s budget in 2017 to focus on solving the refugee crisis. The ERREF will be integrated into the ECBG.

3. Take away the incentives to undertake dangerous journeys to Europe by agreeing on a new deal with Turkey; provide two billion euros of direct financial assistance to refugees and one billion euros to the UNHCR to improve living conditions and education facilities in the camps; and make it possible to apply for humanitarian visa and asylum in the camps outside Europe.

4. Upgrade hot spots to reception centres managed by the ERREF, which will function as transit zones. A distinction will be made between refugees and economic migrants. Migrants with no prospect of international protection will return to their home country.

5. Once previous actions have taken effect, replace the Dublin Regulation with a new single European Asylum Procedure and put an end to discrepancy between member states.

6. Create a single European Blue Card for economic migration to allow migrants to cover the EU's labour needs in the skilled and unskilled workforce.

7. A European Peace Plan plus Marshall Plan for Syria, bolstered by united European action to fight Assad and IS, and providing full support to democratic Syrian opposition forces.

"All of our policies have failed so far. The only solution government leaders have come up with is to suspend Schengen for two years, to reintroduce border controls and to turn Greece into one big refugee camp against its will. It is the ultimate demonstration of political weakness, devaluing both our economy, European solidarity and our hard won European liberties," said Verhofstadt.

"Europe is in [a] state of emergency and this requires emergency measures. Let's not wait another three months to get a grip on the border between Turkey and Greece; Europe has to manage it now with an emergency force of 2000 border guards."

"Instead of demanding that Turkey stops refugees crossing the border, we should instead work to remove the incentives people have to undertake dangerous journeys to Europe in the first place. A new deal with Turkey: two billion euros for direct financial assistance for the refugees, one billion for the UNHCR to improve the conditions in the camps and the possibility to apply for visas and asylum in the camps, is the best way to manage the influx."

Lambsdorff (FDP, Germany) added: "In order to address the current refugee crisis, we need to take bold steps. A truly common European approach is key to secure our external borders. Therefore, a full-fledged European Coast and Border Guard has to be established immediately. At the same time, we need to intensify our diplomatic efforts to end the devastating war in Syria and find a stable political solution for the country."

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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