Friday

22nd Jan 2021

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Time to fix Europe's broken migration and asylum system

  • It is high time to overcome the divergences and differences on migration between member states (Photo: SOS Mediterranee)

From the tragic death of Alan Kurdi five years ago, to the thousands of lost lives in the Mediterranean, to the recent fire at the Moria refugee camp, it has been clear for many years now that the European Union's approach to migration and asylum is not fit for purpose.

Despite the attempts of the Juncker Commission and the European Parliament to make progress, the EU still not has a solid common migration and asylum policy and the most poor and vulnerable continue to pay the price for our failures.

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In the meantime, politicians from the extreme right and populists have exploited the EU's inability to put in place an effective European system, further dividing our communities and destabilising the European Union itself.

The failure to agree a system has not only contributed to a loss of life, it has undermined the EU's ability to project influence in our own neighbourhood. As Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is visibly in a state of nationalist fever, moving away from European values and threatening to send millions of migrants Europe's way, the EU is increasingly exposed.

It is high time, therefore, to overcome the divergences and differences between member states. A road to a genuine, European approach, based on common values and our values exists as shown by the European parliament.

We expect this week a bold plan from the European Commission and a clear commitment from the European Council to finally grasp this issue.

'United we stand, divided we fall'

Never has the metaphor, united we stand: divided we fall, been more prescient.

Renew Europe made migration policy one of its priorities following the last European elections.

Six months ago, after many weeks of intensive work, we released our vision paper on migration and presented it to the European Commission based on six fundamental pillars based on truly European solutions and solidarity.

Migration starts with people. People fleeing from war, poverty or prosecution. People wishing to build a better life.

We can all agree we do not want these people risking their lives on shoddy boats on the Mediterranean sea. We can all agree that we want to provide proper protection to people who genuinely need protection. We can all agree that it would be easier to protect these people, if we could better manage migration flows to the EU.

Currently however, we do not control migration, we respond to irregular migration as it happens.

If we were to put a strong migration policy in place, we could start to regain control. We could prevent future disasters in camps like Moria.

How? By starting at the root of migration. Creating refuge in safe countries close to regions of conflict, managed by the international community.

By creating legal pathways to Europe and dismantling human trafficking networks more effectively, we would stop people from embarking on long, dangerous and often unsuccessful journeys.

For people still arriving irregularly at our borders, it needs to be clear immediately whether they can stay or not, which means efficient processing of asylum claims, returning those who cannot stay and a mechanism to distribute refugees across the EU.

Creating this clarity and efficiency will stop the incentive of people migrating irregularly to the EU, knowing they will be able to prolong their stay indefinitely due to inconsistent EU asylum policies.

Keeping people in limbo in camps like Moria is inhumane and failure epitomised.

We should start controlling migration flows and increasing their predictability. This predictability would in turn make room for solidarity between member states. Not knowing how many asylum seekers are coming your way, makes member states hesitant to agree to take people in.

The debate on migration should not be limited to a discussion on more or less as far rights populists would like it to be.

Control and humanity should not be opposed either as more efficient controls would actually allow for more solidarity.

Renew Europe is determined to break the impasse in the migration debate by championing this common ground. Let's take responsibility and work together to put in place a migration policy that can stand the test of time.

Author bio

Dacian Ciolos MEP is president of the liberal group Renew Europe, where Malik Azmani MEP is first vice-president, and Fabienne Keller and Jan-Christoph Oetjen are MEPs.

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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