UNited for a different European migration policy

Migration is on top of the political agenda - but there is still no movement towards a coherent and comprehensive European solution.

Economist, and Former Secretary General, FEPS

For years now, migration is on top of the political agenda – but there is still no movement towards a coherent and comprehensive European solution.

We are now in a situation that every time migrants are saved from drowning at sea there is a hectic behind-the-scenes negotiation amongst heads of state to agree on a small number of people who are to be given the possibility to ask for asylum. Those countries having agreed to accept migrants during this very hot summer are limited: Germany, France, Spain and Portugal. So it seems only 4 of the 28 European countries are willing to take migrants and rescue them.

The urgency to find a long-term solution and to prove the EU’s capacity needs to be on the European agenda more than ever, particularly ahead of the upcoming 2019 European elections.
Conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, particularly in Syria, have steadily worsened and are not settled. Hence people continue to leave their home countries to find shelter and to survive. Alongside the numbers of people arriving by boat in Italy and Malta, there is a shift in routes: now one of the main routes goes from Morocco to Spain. This turns migration into a highly visible and much- abused issue provoking political hysteria too often and irrationality.

Thousands of people are left in inhumane conditions, yet there are several options to ease such situations. Some were proposed years ago and include humanitarian visas for a safer journey, resettlement, and a relocation scheme governed by a quota system based on population, GDP, the number of spontaneous asylum applications and unemployment rates.
The proposal for a temporary European mandatory quota system failed. The majority of member states especially in Central and Eastern Europe never accepted it and even jeopardised the process of it being introduced.

Instead of finding a common European solution, xenophobic and emotional language prevails. Many examples can be cited and tragic incidents have taken the lives of many migrants already. This is the result of the “European fortress” approach guided by the lack of solidarity between member states. The issue is simply being selfishly pushed back .

Progressives have to prove that they are not on this track and that they are pushing for coherent and long-term solutions.

The current European system forces migrants to take illegal border crossings, criminalising them and throwing them into the hands of traffickers. Such policies do not protect human rights for all and do not give asylum for everyone in need. It casts tremendous doubt on the EU’s founding values.
Human rights, democracy and the EU’s global role in international protection are at stake, with poten- tially dangerous consequences.

Progressives have to prove that they are not on this track and that they are pushing for coherent and long-term solutions. Migration is not only an accidental issue, it is a structural and ordi- nary feature of our globalised world with the current peaks in the global context. As the conflicts are not about to end, migrants continue their perilous journey.

First and foremost, Europe has to be firm in protecting the rights of migrants and to demystify migration. Dishonest propaganda combined with fake news and daily infiltration that migrants are invading the territory, stealing jobs and changing the culture is simply not true and not at all acceptable and must be very strongly contested.

The duty of the progressives is to make a clear case for regular migration and to strengthen the legal possibilities to reach a destination country. This means without a doubt that the state should be in control of the means of developing and managing legal migration channels and efficient asylum practices as well as border controls.

But better management can only be achieved if there is a common under- standing that exclusion of migrants has to be countered by inclusion. Better management can also only be achieved if there is a willingness to try the utmost to overcome war and conflicts in the Middle East and in Africa and to combine this with an all-encompassing and successful development policy.

This is the duty of Europe. Closing our eyes and not being shocked any more by
the tragedies is not human and against every European value. This message must be brought forward in political debates instead of running behind the nasty racist rhetoric.


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