Member states and Council to blame for lack of EU action on migration

Between migration, Greece and the possibility of a 'Brexit', the EU faces many daunting challenges, and Knut Fleckenstein believes Parliament has a crucial role to play in overcoming them.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

09 Sep 2015

Knut Fleckenstein, a vice-chair of Parliament's Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, is convinced "the EU should and will focus its attention on migration and an EU asylum policy. This is and will be one of the biggest challenges for the EU. I will argue for making migration and asylum policy an absolute priority, not only for the next few months but also for the entire parliamentary year."

"The summer's events have highlighted the urgent need for action, both at national and European level. We must take up this challenge. I believe Parliament has a crucial role to play."

A lot of attention has also been on Greece in recent months, and the German MEP says Athens "must now respect the agreement that was reached. However, I agree with the International Monetary Fund - the country's debt should be cut."


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"The privatisation fund will not allow for sufficient investment to come into the country and therefore won't be enough to solve the crisis. Nor are plans to sell off the port of Piraeus a good idea. Forcing a country to sell part of its important infrastructure is a big mistake."

He adds that, "Greece is facing huge challenges and we must support the country as best as possible. We need to discuss the consequences of the crisis and learn from it. A common currency without a common economic and financial policy will not work over the long-term."

Fleckenstein says that if Europe is struggling to overcome current challenges, "it's not because of the Commission or a lack of cooperation with the Parliament. The problem lies with the Council and the member states. Too often, they block important decisions and lack solidarity."

"Member states often seem disinclined to take joint action. But in view of what faces the EU, it's essential for all actors to pull together."

However, one actor may not stick around for much longer, with the possibility of a 'Brexit' looming on the horizon and a referendum on the UK's EU membership scheduled to take place by 2017. 

Fleckenstein says, "of course I want Britain to stay in the EU. I don't like to think of an EU without the UK but I like the idea of holding a referendum in principle. This will at the very least provide more clarity on the role the Britain wishes to play inside the EU, or the sort of relationship it wants with its EU neighbours."

"Nevertheless, UK Prime Minister David Cameron shouldn't be granted any kind of special deal. We should not take any steps back for the EU as a whole. For example, we should reject any demands Britain may have to amend the Schengen agreement as a condition of it staying in the Union. This would contradict our understanding of the EU and is just too high a price to pay", he stresses.

"We must wait patiently for the outcome of the vote. But I am optimistic. In fact, I would like to participate in the campaign and show the British people that EU membership benefits both sides."

 

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