Europe presents its new plan for immigrants: “If you are not a refugee, they will give you back”

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In an interview with La Vanguardia, the European Commissioner for the Interior, Ylva Johansson, defends it as a not ideal solution, but a pragmatic one.

When presenting the new migration pact the European Commissioner for the Interior, the Swedish Ylva Johansson, defends it as a non-ideal solution, but a pragmatic one and therefore capable of reaching a consensus. The proposal, approved this Wednesday by the European Commission, was born to replace the failed Dublin Convention, and prioritize efforts to increase return of migrants to your home country.

That is the centerpiece of the pact, accompanied by a new mechanism of mandatory solidarity. In an interview with La Vanguardia, Johansson argues that many of the migrants must be returned to their country, and wants to use the visa policy to convince the countries of origin to accept them, to increase a return percentage that now stands at 30%.

– You have said that your proposal is not going to like anybody. Is it the best way to present an initiative?

Let me put it this way, no one will be satisfied, because it is a balanced proposal, but I think everyone will see that it is possible to reach a compromise on this proposal. My aim is to make it acceptable to all Member States, even though they have very different views on migration.

-There are no mandatory relocation fees.

-Not. There will be a mandatory solidarity mechanism and it can be used when a member state is under pressure. But it must be remembered that, of the irregular arrivals of migrants to the European Union, the majority are not refugees and will have to be returned. I think it is very important that we make the returns, because those who are not eligible to stay must be returned. And that means that when one member state activates the mandatory solidarity mechanism, we will have quotas for all member states, where the other member states that will help can choose whether to do relocation or what we call return sponsorship.

-That means…

-It means that the other states will be in charge of making diplomatic efforts so that these people are recognized and have identification and travel documents and make returns to the country of origin. So that states can choose whether to help with relocation to bring refugees back to their own country, or through return sponsorship, returning those who cannot stay in the European Union.

-Is it logistical help?

-No, it means they have to do the diplomatic efforts to make sure these people are actually returned to that country of origin. And if they cannot return, they have to go to the member state responsible for returns.

-In April four countries, Spain, Germany, France and Italy, requested by letter a mandatory solidarity mechanism and specified that if there were other measures other than relocation, they would be an exception. This is not what it raises.

-No, my proposal is that the return is as important as the relocation. And I base that on the fact that many of those who arrive will have a negative asylum decision and will have to be returned. And I think it’s important that we show that if you come to the European Union, if you pay a lot of money to smugglers, you may risk your life on these terrible ships, but if you are not a refugee they will give you back. I think this is also important to help fight smugglers.

-The front-line states do not have the guarantee of relocation of migrants in other countries.

-Yes, they will have a guarantee of some relocations, but also of returns. So it is equally important that those who have a negative decision will actually be sent back. I think we can achieve a substantial increase in returns. But that is why I am also doing other things, we will work on a return readmission agreement with third countries, we will use new legislation to facilitate visas for both in a positive and negative way, depending on how a third country is cooperating in the readmission. We need a European system of returns to be more effective.

-What do you offer to the countries of origin to accept returns?

-Our goal should be to have a win-win situation, in which we help third countries to manage migration, which also includes money from the European Union, international aid, and also the new legislation on visa facilitation.


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