The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has called this Thursday to the European governments to leave behind “battles of the past” to overcome strong divergences that distance them from consensus on migration matters, with the objective of urgently reaching an agreement that allows the reform of the common migration and asylum policy.
“Given the urgency in some Member States, it makes no sense to continue with the battles of the past, we need a solution and we need it now “Von der Leyen warned in a speech at the opening of a high-level inter-parliamentary conference on migration organized by the European Parliament.
Von der Leyen has called for a “change” in attitude and stressed that migration “is a fact for Europe and always will be”, that it is a phenomenon that “enriches” societies and brings talent, but this only “if it is well managed”. Otherwise, he added, “it has the potential to divide us.”
In addition, the head of the Community Executive has regretted that “many success stories” of migrants or refugees who are integrated into the European Union barely have an echo and has stressed the need to have agile procedures to deal with asylum claims, to ensure “fast” processes and that migrants who receive protection “feel welcome and integrated”.
However, German politics has warned that this approach and the commitment to create new reliable channels for the legal entry of migrants must also be combined with stronger returns policy and better coordination between member states and with third countries to expedite the expulsions of migrants who are rejected in the EU.
“Those who are not eligible for asylum or international protection must return to their places of origin, It is the only way to break the vicious cycle of the mafias “, has defended.
During the exchange with national parliamentarians and international organizations, Von der Leyen also spoke about the role of NGOs participating in the Mediterranean in rescue operations on the high seas and called for greater legal clarity for them. “No one should be criminalized for saving lives at sea, I think we have to clarify this, “he added, to ask for full respect for fundamental rights.
All 27 countries must negotiate reform
Last September, Brussels presented its proposal to design a Migration Pact with which aspires to gain support from both frontline entry countries, such as Italy, Greece and Spain, who demand greater solidarity from their partners in the distribution of reception and who, like Hungary or Poland flatly refuse to receive any migrant in their territory.
The Twenty-seven have just begun discussions to negotiate their position on the reform, which It must be negotiated between the Council and the European Parliament before finally seeing the light.
After more than a year of contacts with the capitals, the Community Executive has finally presented a review of the immigration policy that puts the idea of mandatory quotas aside, but raises a voluntary system with various levels of solidarity and it is committed to strengthening the external border of the European Union and expediting the expulsions of migrants who achieve refugee status.
Von der Leyen has defended during the debate in the European Parliament that this proposal is “balanced” between the solidarity demanded by the countries most subjected to migratory pressure, such as Spain, and those that they reply by claiming the “responsibility” of hosting the countries of entry.
“It is a fair balance between solidarity and responsibility”, has argued the president of the Commission, who has assured that solidarity will be “mandatory” because no member state will be able to choose if to be supportive, although “yes you can choose how to be so”.
The flexibility that Brussels raises to save the migratory pact goes through allowing that, in a moment of strong pressure on a Member State, the rest of the partners can choose between welcoming part of the migrants who arrived in that first EU country or “assume responsibility for the return” of those who are deported, something the Commission defines as “sponsored” expulsions.