The EU needs a migration pact at the height of its values and with a fair distribution
After five years of paralysis, the European Commission has finally come up with a plan to face the migration challenge that causes so much tension within the Union. The plan tries to reconcile the conflicting interests of the Eastern countries that refuse to accept refugees and the southern border countries such as Greece, Italy or Spain, which are at the forefront of irregular arrivals. The Commission waives the imposition of mandatory refugee quotas, but provides a la carte solidarity mechanisms so that everyone can find a way to contribute.
The proposal now begins the discussion process with the 27 member countries and the European Parliament. It is not guaranteed success, but it is a serious and possible attempt to address a problem that had taken root after the Union failed in its project to impose mandatory refugee quotas in the middle of the migration crisis. The refusal by Eastern countries to comply with the distribution pact adopted by a majority opened an unprecedented crisis in which it became clear that the EU was incapable of implementing its own agreements. The numbers of arrivals are now very far from the million and a half of 2015, but the pressure exerted by the extreme right and the follow-up of their postulates by some conservative governments has prevented a consensus on a common policy of asylum and management of irregular migration.
The member countries will have three ways to contribute: host refugee contingents, assume the management of the return of irregular immigrants or contribute to defray the costs of the policies applied in the most affected countries. The Commission reserves the right to impose its final judgment if, in an emergency, it does not find the necessary cooperation on a voluntary basis. This kind of carte blanche can be a stumbling block for the accession of the most reluctant countries, but their governments must bear in mind that if they are in the European Union, it is not just to obtain benefits, including important structural funds. They must also contribute to burdens, and the reception of refugees is one of the hallmarks of the European project.
The problem is complex and one of the difficulties lies in distinguishing between displaced persons with the right to asylum and economic migrants. The plan revolves around two axes: shielding the external borders and a more efficient management of the returns of irregular immigrants. This is a crucial point, since it is estimated that more than two thirds of the migrants who arrive do not have the right to asylum. The greatest agility in the reception and return procedures must in any case be governed by scrupulous respect for human rights, something that is not always fulfilled right now at the Greek border, and not even when the disembarkation of rescued migrants is denied in high sea. The end result should be the introduction of clear and fair rules and criteria that discourage irregular immigration. But for this, it is essential to enable credible channels that channel regular migration and reach agreements with the sending countries so that those who collaborate with the repatriation of their nationals are rewarded with greater migratory quotas.