The European Parliament backed a resolution (12 April 2016) recommending a holistic approach to migration in the EU. The report outlines a strong progressive vision of what a new migration policy for Europe should look like. The Socialists and Democrats political group in the European Parliament issued the following statement following this vote:
‘The refugee crisis has shown that the current EU approach to migration is not sustainable. We need to have a complete overhaul to create a system that is fit for the 21st Century. This report outlines the European Parliament’s vision of what that is.
‘Over the last few years thousands of people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe’s shores. These deaths are a stain on our conscience. We are calling for permanent, robust and effective search and rescue operations at sea to prevent more meaningless loss of life.
‘This immediate response must be combined with a wider overhaul of managing asylum applications in the EU. This means replacing the Dublin system – under which refugees must apply for asylum in the first EU country they reach – with a centralised European system that allocates refugees in a fair and transparent way. A similar approach must also be taken with refugees already in Europe, with a compulsory relocation system, which allocates refugees between different member states, so that the responsibility is shared in a fair manner. This will be supported by ensuring the mutual recognition of positive asylum decisions by all member states.
‘The purpose of this report is to highlight that we need a well-rounded approach to migration and not one based simply on keeping people out. Too much of the focus in recent months has been on the security elements and too little on tackling the root causes that are causing mass migration in the first place. We cannot accept that funding promised for development aid or to support third countries is now being diverted to beef up border security. This is a short-term approach which is just building up bigger problems for the future.
‘In the longer term we need to ensure that there are clear legal routes into Europe – both for those in need of protection and for those that have skills needed in the EU labour market. The report calls for the creation of humanitarian visas, which would allow the holder to travel directly to the country where they wish to claim asylum. This approach would help manage the flow of refugees coming to the EU and would reduce the demand for services offered by parasitic people smugglers. Alongside action to tackle the refugee crisis, we also call for the EU to establish more general rules governing the entry and residence of third country nationals seeking employment in the Union to fill gaps in the EU labour market. This could boost the European economy and show the benefits migration brings to the EU.
Turkey: need of urgent reforms in key areas, say MEPs
On Thursday 14th April the European Parliament voted on a non-binding resolution on Turkey outlining the need for reforms.
European Socialists and Democrats stress the importance of the adoption, by the European Parliament, of the progress report on Turkey, and consider that the negotiation process must continue and be accelerated. The Group underlines the need for more democracy, especially in the areas of freedom of expression, freedom of media, the rule of law and the rights of minorities. S&Ds call on Turkish authorities to fully adopt European values and the Copenhagen criteria:
‘Today the EU and Turkey are facing many of the same challenges and we need each other in order to find joint solutions. But the backsliding in the rule of law and media freedom in Turkey will have to stop and reforms resumed. We believe that Turkey has to return to a path where journalists are not imprisoned for doing their job, where academics don’t lose their jobs for expressing their views and where judges do not hesitate to rule due to fear of being displaced or fired.
‘The situation in the South East of Turkey is of great concern to us. We call for the settlement process to be re-launched as there is no military solution for the Kurdish question. Regarding migration, we praise the Turkish citizens for hosting the largest refugee population in the world. It is time that the EU engages in genuine burden sharing and starts with a large scale resettlement programme of refugees to EU countries.”
‘We clearly condemn the intimidation of journalists in all its forms, the violent and illegal take-over of several newspapers and highlight the serious backsliding on freedom of speech, expression and opinion over the past two years.
“Turkey, in order to facilitate its accession negotiation process, should fully align itself with European values, principles and criteria.
‘A new constitution should improve and guarantee a secular state with full respect of the freedom of expression and rights of minorities.
‘We reiterate our call on Turkey to normalise its relations with all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.”
‘We shall assess today the stalemate of Turkey’s accession to the EU, which, unfortunately, has also contributed to a slowdown in the pace of reforms and in the respect for the rule of law and fundamental values in Turkey. We am deeply worried about the serious deterioration, in the last two years, of the freedom of speech, expression and opinion in the country.
‘Therefore, we strongly encourage, yet again, the Council and the Commission to open chapters 23 and 24! Simultaneously, we urge Turkey to continue the reform process; to resolve outstanding bilateral issues with its neighbours and to play a constructive role in the Cyprus negotiations. The success of these negotiations is important for the EU and we believe also for Turkey.
‘There is no doubt over the necessity for deepening our cooperation with Turkey in order to solve the current refugee and migration crisis. This being said, we have important concerns about certain aspects of the latest EU-Turkey deal. We have to ensure that the rights of all asylum seekers are well respected in Turkey and in the EU; that both sides are facilitating the work of UNHCR and that article 51 of the Geneva Convention is fully applied.”
Procedure: non-legislative resolutions