Refugee crisis: EU needs 'strict but fair' migration policy

Written by Helga Stevens on 9 October 2015 in Opinion
Opinion

The refugee crisis will only be solved with a fair distribution of asylum seekers across the member states, but this alone is not enough, writes Helga Stevens.

As many as 60 million people are currently fleeing their country. This is the largest number of refugees since World War II. During the first seven months of 2015, over 565,000 asylum requests were registered in the EU - the same amount as the total number of applications submitted last year. Up to the end of August, 2500 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean. This is unimaginable and unacceptable.

Europe is on the losing side. It is struggling with an unprecedented situation, and there are no easy solutions. The influx of asylum seekers is a major challenge both to our social fabric and our social welfare state. Given the origin and motives of those concerned, it seems many of them are economic migrants.

It's clear to all that simply taking in refugees isn't really the answer. Only a structural, comprehensive solution can bring sustainable and lasting change. How can we achieve a stable government in Libya? How do we answer to the problems in Syria? How do we tackle human traffickers and Isis executioners?


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Finding a structural solution will require time and a lot of effort. Therefore, we cannot hide behind 'ultimate pacification'. Immediate measures are urgently needed. For my party, the N-VA, there is an urgent need for responsible member states in a responsible EU.

Several member states have taken up their moral and humanitarian responsibility, offering many refugees protection and shelter. Unfortunately, some countries have asked for European socio-economic solidarity, while remaining on the side-lines when asked to contribute to an honest asylum solidarity within the EU.

Any solution to the crisis will require a fair distribution of asylum seekers across all the member states. However, distribution is not enough, and requesting it should only ever be the last step towards a holistic solution.

Asylum and migration policies must have sound border policies - this is crucial. An effective return policy should also be implemented. Additionally, the EU has a moral duty to provide assistance to enable safe shelter in third countries, so that fewer people attempt the dangerous crossing.

By definition, a strong social welfare state goes together with a selective admission policy. An open door policy will inevitably have an impact on the social welfare state. Europe cannot take everyone in. It is unethical for the EU and its member states to nurture unrealistic expectations they cannot fulfil. 

At the same time, we must take steps to help those who will become part of our society, so that they can contribute to it in a positive way. It is therefore essential that we help these people integrate into their new local communities. This is where the EU must assist the member states, yet all too often, European legislation is more of an inhibiting factor.

As we work on a structural solution offering peace and security in the conflict areas, we urgently need direct measures. As long as these are not taken, the European Parliament's N-VA delegation will refuse to support any proposals for financial assistance to member states that do not assume their responsibility in this historic migration crisis. Everyone must play their part. The N-VA believes a strict but fair immigration and asylum policy is the only possible option.

 

About the author

Helga Stevens (ECR, BE) shadow rapporteur on the situation in the Mediterranean and need for a holistic EU approach to migration

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