Migration & Asylum: The EU’s duty of care

Migration is, and will continue to be, a major challenge for Europe; agreeing a common EU response is therefore essential, believes Tomas Tobé
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By Tomas Tobé

Tomas Tobé (SE, EPP) is Chair of the European Parliament’s Development Committee

22 Jul 2021

One of the most important issues now, and for the years to come, is migration. Therefore, the EU must urgently agree on a common European response; the inability to agree on a common approach has created a situation where Europe is failing.

Currently, responsibility for migration is not shared between all 27 Member States, but primarily between the five countries bordering the Mediterranean. In turn, France, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden are the main destination countries of secondary movement.

It is crucial that we reform the Common European Asylum System. We need to control our external borders, provide access to swift and fair asylum procedures and effectively return those not granted stay in the EU.

The majority of those who have sought asylum in the EU are economic migrants, without the right to protection. Therefore, the most effective means of reducing migration is to distinguish between those in need of protection - often women and children - and irregular migrants.

We must also combat human smuggling networks. This will alleviate the pressure on frontline Member States and on destination countries of secondary movement.

There must be mandatory and meaningful solidarity among frontline states, but the options must be flexible for contributing Member States. Compulsory relocation for all is not going to work; the political deadlock will only continue.

“The EU must urgently agree on a common European response; the inability to agree on a common approach has created a situation where Europe is failing”

However, the migration issue will not become easier in one, two or even five years. Therefore, it is time for greater political progress in the Council. The Parliament will be ready to negotiate as soon as the Council is ready.

As Chair of the European Parliament’s Development Committee and as rapporteur on the Regulation on Asylum and Migration Management, I also take into account the external dimensions of migration.

Globally there are more than 82 million displaced people. Additionally, the vast majority of these are either in their country of origin or in the neighbouring area.

The EU is the world’s largest donor of development aid, which give us the financial and political measures to engage with third country partners in efforts to eradicate poverty, improve the respect for democracy and human rights and to ensure sustainable development in developing countries.

Furthermore, we must work with third countries in mutually beneficial partnerships on joint objectives to address the root causes of migration. Some 86 percent of the displaced are in developing countries, and the EU should assist refugee-hosting communities.

Efficient aid will address the underlying causes of migration and reduce irregular migration to EU. That way, the EU also will assist many more displaced persons than we are capable of doing within our own territory.

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