Many people have contacted me to express their concerns with the migration agreement struck between the EU Member States and Turkey. I share these concerns and, for that reason, I signed a Parliamentary Question to the Commission, as the EU’s executive arm, together with like-minded colleagues, raising the inadequacies of the reception systems noted by the United Nations Refugee agency and by Amnesty International on the ground, as well as the need to respect international law, which includes the principle of ‘non-refoulement’ binding all countries not to send people back into areas where they would find themselves in danger again. Turkey’s partial application of the Geneva Convention on refugees also raises serious doubts.
The influx of people willing to risk their own lives and those of their loved ones leaves no doubt about the nature of the war they are trying to escape, and our national responses so far have not lived up to their needs and the legal standards that reflect the values we claim to hold.
Shared responsibility and collaboration are badly needed now, and into the future, to ensure an adequate humanitarian response as well as to prevent the breakdown of the EU itself.
At the latest plenary session of the European Parliament, a majority of us demanded that the necessary number of European migration officials and other presonnel be sent to assist Greece, as they have, up to now, been woefully overwhelmed in trying to ensure that refugees’ rights are not disregarded for want of resources, not to mention other failings.
We have been of the view, as far back as 2009, that a binding relocation mechanism is necessary at EU level, to prevent the breakdown of the whole system through the sheer pressure at chokepoints that may be an accident of geography but need not be an accident of international selfishness.
We have also expressed criticism of the domestic situation in Turkey at this last session which, although largely beyond Europe’s control, cannot be ignored for the sake of appeasing an authoritarian regime which seeks to buy our silence in exchange for an expedient deal to prevent extremely vulnerable people from reaching our shores in very dangerous circumstances.
We will continue to monitor and question the EU governments and the Commission’s measures and relay your message to them at every opportunity.