The European Commission’s European Migration Agency representative in Spain, Etienne de Perier, has defended that the European Union’s migration and asylum pact currently being negotiated “offers a balance between border protection and sovereignty, as well as between solidarity, security and humanity” and has said that approval is “imminent”.
This is what De Perier said this Monday during the Conecta Canarias-Europe conference on migration and asylum in the Parliament of the Canary Islands, where he pointed out that the “pressure” at Europe’s external borders was 14% greater than in the same period of the year last year, although the situation is not the same on all routes.
“In the central Mediterranean, arrivals have doubled, with pressure peaks like last week: almost 8,000 migrants arrived in Lampedusa in three days, almost 100 small boats in one day. In total, Frontex has recorded around 240,000 irregular arrivals since the beginning of the year, a significant number,” said Etienne de Perier.
However, he asked to look at the figures “from a broader perspective”, pointing out that more than two million people had come to Europe legally, while the number of asylum applications had risen to 720,000 compared to last year, of which Spain with 114,000 the second largest country behind Germany.
“The situation in Lampedusa, Lesbos, Arguineguín, Andalusia or Samos shows that no country is able to manage migration alone. “These circumstances require a general agreement on the tools Europeans need to better manage the common border in a fair, humane, sustainable and efficient way,” said De Perier.
In his opinion, the new pact aims to “revive the system” after proposals stalled due to the refugee crisis in 2016. “This crisis has highlighted the need for a reform of European instruments designed to address different challenges and a different scale.” There is also a need for efficient and rapid procedures that respect fundamental rights regarding asylum and return,” he added.
De Perier has defended the importance of not keeping people in uncertainty for long periods of time and proposed a fair distribution of responsibility and solidarity between Member States with mandatory solidarity.
“The stronger the pressure has to be, the greater the solidarity. We must work with third countries, with action and for mutual benefit,” he explained.
Regarding the challenges, De Perier pointed to the desire to create a new framework for refugee resettlement, to update legislation with uniform standards or to harmonize the Union’s reception conditions.
Many aspects still need to be negotiated, he said, such as the crisis instrument to manage and protect fundamental rights and the Union’s ability to deal with migration challenges, “which can be very different, especially with regard to the scale of migration flows”.
He mentioned other “important” measures such as tightening regulations to prevent and combat human trafficking and called for “structural” solutions to ensure well-managed migration, which, he stressed, depends on common and sustainable migration.