Towards a balanced EU migration policy

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Migration remains one of the key challenges in Europe and requires a comprehensive response. [EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU]

When it comes to migration, there should be tangible solidarity in the EU. However, Poland cannot accept the paradigm according to which solidarity is based on obligatory measures, including relocation, writes Andrzej Sadoś.

Andrzej Sadoś is the Permanent Representative of Poland to the EU.

Recent events on Lesbos remind us that migration remains one of the key challenges in Europe and requires a comprehensive response. Forging this response demands rebuilding trust and bringing together all member states to jointly manage the realities of migration, while ensuring the security of EU citizens,

Migration-related issues are very important to me personally as for seven years I had experienced the challenges, opportunities and consequences of migration firsthand while working for an international organisation providing comprehensive help to refugees and migrants.

Generations of Poles had to migrate for political reasons. Most recently, Poles migrated for economic reasons thus further expanding Polish diaspora around the world.

Poland also experiences mass labour migration from Ukraine and Asia, while the recent tensions in the East see more Belarusians finding safe haven in our country. Their contribution towards the development of the Polish economy is growing and this trend is expected to continue.

Hence, we are looking forward to the European Commission’s proposal and to the discussion amongst EU member states. We need a fresh start in EU migration and asylum policy.

I believe that the upcoming New Pact on Migration and Asylum will be based on the balance between the principles of responsibility and solidarity, as agreed upon by our political leaders in June 2018.

Starting from responsibility, the Pact should primarily focus on efficient protection of the EU’s external borders. It is crucial to improve external border surveillance and mitigate procedural and organisational divergences across the EU in this regard.

We need to alleviate illegal migration and facilitate our efforts to break the business model of migrant smugglers while developing the system that quickly and efficiently distinguishes between those in need of international protection and those that abuse procedures.

This is why Poland has been advocating for the development of an ambitious fully-fledged EU border procedure and a greater engagement of Frontex agency that would assist member states in securing the borders.

The development of border management will need to go hand in hand with improving the Union’s ability to accelerate returns of persons that do not possess the legal right to stay in the EU.

While ensuring the fundamental rights of each individual, the EU should establish common mechanisms that will allow member states to quickly send back migrants not eligible for protection, preferably directly from the EU’s external border.

The experience has shown that improving the EU’s return policy is not possible without developing comprehensive relations with third countries.

We need to be able to better use all relevant measures in order to address more effectively the root causes of illegal migration and strengthen our partners’ capacities to manage borders, fight against smuggling and cooperate on readmission.

In order to maintain a proper balance in EU migration policy, responsibility should be complemented with tangible solidarity.

The frontline member states under pressure should be provided with tailor-made support and assistance.

Our understanding of solidarity is that it shall be as wide and flexible as possible. It would need to involve the provision of a broad catalogue of tools, such as financial and technical support, adjusted to capacities and preferences of member states.

Thus, we cannot accept the paradigm according to which solidarity is based on obligatory measures, including relocation.

Relocation not only proves to be ineffective but it also creates a powerful pull factor and constitutes an incentive for smuggles while putting human lives at risk.

Therefore, we see the New Pact on Migration and Asylum as an opportunity to shift from unilaterally imposed to commonly agreed solutions.

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