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"Migration needs both - humanity and clear rules". EESC calls for a common European asylum and migration policy


Europe needs a truly common European asylum system with harmonized procedures throughout Europe. In the current complex situation, Europe needs to secure its borders in a European rather than a national effort while at the same time assisting asylum seekers outside the EU. Moreover, it has to put in place an effective immigration policy which is transparent, clearly outlining who will have a chance to immigrate and welcoming those newcomers by supporting their start in the respective EU Member State.


These are some of many proposals the European Economic and Social Committee has included in four opinions on improving migration policy in Europe, which were adopted at the 512th plenary session on 10 December and which should feed into the European Agenda on Migration. The EESC also adopted a Resolution on Refugees calling for the development of immediate measures to address the root causes of the current refugee flow and for the development of safe humanitarian corridors for refugees from countries affected by wars. It also called for a special focus on the integration and inclusion of migrants into society and the labour market.


EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans referred to Member States. – We need responsible leadership in the nations and we have to deal with differences in society,  that's my call to EU leaders – he said.


The quarrels in Europe since flows of migrants have entered the Union, very drastically reminded EU leaders of the lack of a genuine common asylum policy. The EESC urges the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament to implement Article 67(2) and Article 78 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which lay down the conditions for the EU to create a European asylum policy. It is in the interest of all member states that a robust, solidarity based system of burden-sharing, especially a permanent, fair and binding system for allocating those seeking protection between all EU countries, is implemented. So far an agreement on the relocation of 160.000 refugees has been reached. The EESC considers that more ambition is needed. – The resettlement mechanism evinces EU solidarity – permanent relocation needs to happen. Time of national selfishness is gone – said Cristian Pirvulescu, while Stefano Mallia (both rapporteurs) referred to those who are helping on the spot: – The EU institutions need to better support these NGO's and the civil society – he added.


The EESC  also reminds EU-Member States that one of the pillars of a functioning union is solidarity between all Member States which until recently has worked very well.


It is in the European interest but it should also be an international effort to stop the brutal game of migrant-smugglers. – The EU's action plan is a starting point which is welcomed by the EESC, however, it has to distinguish between migrants and refugees and also to refer to the Geneva Convention –  said rapporteur Brenda King. It has also be accompanied by regulations on how the EU will protect and assist those who were smuggled. Moreover, due to the often socio-economic reasons of migration, a swift implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda should deserve special attention and be seen as a long-term solution improving the situation in the countries of origin.


For the EESC it is still too early to draft an inclusive list of safe Member States, however when the list will be drafted it is important to establish a common EU list of safe countries on the basis of common criteria set out in Directive 2013/32/EU. – For the assessment of a country, specific, practical and precise indicators and criteria need to be used, also including sources from the UNHCR, EASO, CoE, ECHR and other human rights organizations – said rapporteur Jose Antonio Moreno Diaz. The EESC believes that the concept of safe country of origin should under no circumstances be applied in cases of infringement of press freedoms, undermining of political pluralism, or in countries where persecution takes place on the grounds of gender and/or sexual orientation, or of belonging to a national, ethnic, cultural or religious minority. The EESC, however, is concerned that a common list of safe countries will not lead to greater harmonization as long as it will co-exist alongside national lists compiled by each member state.


Civil society plays a vital role in dealing with this crisis, for example by providing the first assistance to newcomers and by organizing integration activities. The cost of non-integration greatly exceeds the cost of integration and civil society helps creating a cultural and social consensus on the need of integration. Therefore the EESC calls for an increase of financial and material support for NGOs and civil society organizations.


In addition, the EESC will start, before Christmas, a series of missions to several Member States especially concerned by migration flows in order to look into some of the challenges met by civil society organizations on the ground.  It will look at best practices, problems and needs and in early 2016 will make a series of recommendations on how to help refugees and the organizations assisting them.


EESC has issued numerous opinions which support the stance expressed in the resolution. These statements also include the following postulates:


  • immediate establishment of hot spots – places of quick registration for migrants;
  • intensified efforts to weaken criminal networks of people smugglers;
  • establishing a common visa code for the whole of the EU;
  • broadening the competences of the European Asylum Assistance Office and the expenses of EU member states on  EASO, Frontex and Europol;
  • improving the efficiency of EU policy with regards to returning migrants to their countries of origin in keeping with the non-refoulment principle and the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the directives resulting from them. EESC opposes the return of unattended minors, people who require medical attention, pregnant women, those who are persecuted or a the risk of persecution in their country of origin;
  • increasing funds allocated  to immediate support for refugees, as well as for NGOs  in member states which would make aid more efficient and help resolve the migration crisis;
  • creating an additional,, extraordinary trust fund for Africa;
  • increasing the member states’ contribution to development aid (member state are obliged to assign 0.7 percent of their GNI, but in many cases these requirements have not been met);
  • implementing the sustainable development goals adopted at the September summit in New York, such as: eliminating poverty, strengthening women’s position on the labour market, promoting long-term sustainable development as a tool for preventing social exclusion, ensuring decent work for all, decreasing inequalities within countries and between them, promoting peaceful and integrated societies.


(source: EESC press release)


The resolution is attached below.