The sudden and substantial increase of migrants’ flow to Europe over the last years has produced a severe political and identity crisis within the EU, a crisis that risks undermining its basic principles and values, and fostering the rise of xenophobic nationalism, writes the Progressive Caucus of the European Parliament.
This op-ed is co-signed by Guillaume Balas (S&D), Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/ NGL), Ernest Urtasun (Greens/ALE), Florent Marcellesi (Greens/ALE), Eva Joly (Greens/ALE), Elly Schlein (S&D), Martin Schirdewan (GUE/NGL) and Sergio Cofferati (S&D).
For this reason, migration is probably the greatest challenge the EU has to deal with in the near future. It is also a common challenge for all the Progressive forces in Europe.
In recent months, arrivals to the Mediterranean coasts have substantially decreased because of the border externalisation measures taken by the EU and its members, including the agreements with Turkey and Libya. This led certain governments to celebrate the result as a victory.
What they do not mention are the consequences these measures have produced on migrants’ lives: deaths at sea have proportionally increased and crossing the Mediterranean is becoming more dangerous. In addition, migrants are choosing new and routes that are more dangerous and many of them are trapped in Libya, victims of violence and exploitation.
Despite testimonies of serious human rights’ violations in Libya, the EU, driven by the “securitarian obsession” of some of its member states, continues to adopt the “externalization” approach based also on deals with third countries.
It therefore does not come as a surprise the recent proposal by some EU members to strike an agreement with Egypt, a country undergoing an unabated human rights crisis and an unprecedented repression; a country which, since January 2016, and that gave no answer regarding the kidnapping, torture and murder of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni.
This happens in parallel to a lack of internal solidarity between EU members, as the inability to reform the Dublin Regulation has demonstrated. Instead of reaching consensus on common European solutions to global problems, member states continue to insist on ad-hoc short-sighted answers, which do not tackle the issue at its roots and continues to foster competition between themselves.
The solution cannot be the closing of harbours and borders nor leaving people in danger in the middle of the Mediterranean, as it happened in Italy with the Diciotti and Aquarius boats. It cannot be the criminalization of NGOs that every day save people at sea and fill in for the European countries showing/which show a shameful lack of solidarity.
The solution cannot be the re-establishment of EU internal border controls, nor leaving responsibilities on just a few members states, like Italy and Greece.
For this reason, we welcome that a new rescue vessel, flying an Italian flag and organized by Mediterranea, a platform of Italian associations, is on its way to the search-and-rescue area off of Libya, standing in for the European mission of search and rescue the EU failed/ refused to implement.
What we really need is a common European long-term response, not ad-hoc solutions taken at the expenses of vulnerable human beings. We would also need to establish safe and legal ways of access to all EU member states.
In addition, we would need to reform the Dublin regulation in the way the European Parliament has already voted, for a mandatory relocation that demands all Member States to do their part in welcoming refugees.
The European Parliament once again on the Commission and the Council to take responsibility in front of the reformation of the Common European Asylum System, which has been blocked continuously, despite that it has been 3 years almost since the publication of Commission’s legislative proposals.
As for Italy, we call on the Italian interior minister to fight for common rules at the European level and for a fair sharing of responsibility instead of closing harbours and establishing alliances with those who do not want to have a role in this.
We, as Progressive Caucus, will continue to ask and fight for a different Europe and we will refuse every nationalism. A Europe that protects people and not borders and promotes a positive vision of migration, in line with the objectives of the Agenda 2030.
A Europe where migrants are seen as a resource for our society and where integration policies are given the needed relevance. A Europe based on the principle of democracy, entailing the duty to protect vulnerable people, and on the rule of law.
The current situation is paradigmatic of member states’ inability to provide the citizens with the answers they need. In case of failure, they will be the only culprits for the disintegration of the EU and for the rising of the xenophobic nationalisms all around Europe.