On March 19, the event “EU immigration policy: which reform after Dublin?” took place at the Press Club Brussels Europe. The conference, organized by the international non-profit organization Alliance4Europe, has been an opportunity to discuss the present and the future of the EU immigration policy and the Dublin regulation.
Even if the news on migration flows are reported almost every day by national media, much confusion is present regarding the EU actions towards this issue. Concepts such as EU immigration policy and the Dublin regulation are often presented as synonymous, but they are not. In fact, the former refers to the broader concept of EU policy towards all types of migrants coming in the European Union. The latter is the EU legislative tool set to analyze the asylum status for people seeking international protection, a right guaranteed in international law by the UN Geneva Convention.
The event has permitted to analyze the topic from different perspectives, thanks to the participation of Mr. Claude Morales, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs; Ms. Colombe Cahen-Salvador, Volt France list leader for the 2019 European elections; and Mr. Yannis Karamitsios, co-founder of Alliance4Europe.
Mr. Yannis Karamitsios opened the conference highlighting the global dimension of migration. “There is no migration crisis – Mr. Karamitsios said – We are talking about a migration phenomenon. This phenomenon is projected to intensify definitely in the future due to many different reasons: wars, climate change, environmental pressures, overpopulation. We have to deal with it, so let’s take the best advantages of it”. Mr. Karamitsios remarked the importance to reform the Dublin regulation. Currently, the asylum request system relies mostly on the capacities and resources of the countries the asylum seekers land, principally Greece and Italy. The Dublin Regulation should be reformed to be a truly European law, with a harmonized set of rules where each Member State does its part to manage this phenomenon under the European principle of solidarity. Thus, the co-founder of Alliance4Europe remarked the role of the European Union to support neighboring countries to guarantee decent conditions to hosted migrants, helping them to repatriate safety.
Then, Ms. Colombe Cahen-Salavdor presented the Volt’s position on migration, which looks towards a truly European action to manage the issue. “Migration is not a problem per se. We need an European approach because we have clearly seen that individual responses don’t work”. Volt movement looks towards a reform of the Dublin System to a truly Unified EU Refugee System, complemented by a settlement scheme which provides for sanctions against States refusing to fulfil their responsibility. Member States should ensure a real integration of refugees, recognizing their skills more easily and supporting the entrance to the European job market. The French EP’s candidate highlighted that the EU Immigration policy should be more accommodating to labour migrants, as they can contribute to both the welfare of European countries and their country’s economies. Ms. Colombe Cahen-Salavdor recognized the importance to regulate the access of migrants to the EU, but a mechanism should be created in cooperation with neighbor countries to ensure that migrants return back in safety conditions.
Finally, Mr. Claude Morales, member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, remarked how the political debate on the future of EU Immigration policy has been shaped by the populist narrative. “They succeed because it is very difficult to argue the counter case. There were researches in Germany about the positive contribution of Syrian and asylum seekers in society, but racism can make people blind.” The European Union, Mr. Morales affirmed, has limited control on EU migration policy as the Member States play the key role. Fear is the element which has permitted the populist parties to increase their votes, without the possibility to contextualize the issue. For instance, demographic migrants are necessary for different European Union regions due to a lack of workforce. However, Member States make highly difficult to find an agreement on an instrument like the Blue Card, which protects the interests both of the Member State and the migrants. Mr. Morales concluded remarking the importance to bring back rationality into the debate. He warned that it could be complicated as dealing with the migration issue in a cooperative way is the real threat for populist parties, which benefit the most from a permanent sense of fear.
Migration is one the main challenge for the future policies of the EU. National parties of the different political areas have brought approaches and solutions completely different towards this issue. The next European elections in May will be crucial to determine which direction European citizens want to indicate for the future of migration policy in the European Union.