Following a white-night, marathon talk at a summit, European leaders eventually reached a compromise on migration in the early hours of Saturday. According to summit conclusions, which was belated due to Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte insistence on some lines, member states of the European Union (EU) will, on a voluntary basis, set up so-called “controlled centers” to host and transfer migrants that landed on EU shores.
The “controlled centers” will determine who will be returned and who qualifies for asylum. European leaders also call on the European Commission to “swiftly explore the concept of regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries.”The new approach aims to “definitively break the business model of the smugglers, thus preventing the tragic loss of life,” the conclusions noted.
Like the “controlled centers” inside the EU, the poposed “regional disembarkation platforms” outside the EU are tasked with distinguishing migrants “in full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor.”
Earlier this month, EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, whose portfolio covers migration, told reporters that the Commission has been in talks with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on how to engage North African countries in disembarkation schemes.
When it comes to the secondary movements of asylum seekers inside the EU, which has sparked a political spat in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, European leaders agreed that member states “should take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures to counter such movements.”Despite heated political row over migration, the arrivals of migrants or refugees to Europe have been on a downward trend in the past three years. According to IOM data, 52,240 migrants or refugees arrived in Europe as of June 20 this year, compared with 186,768 in 2017 and 390,432 in 2016. Gerhard Stahl, a visiting professor at the College of Europe, told Xinhua that the error of the EU’s first reaction to the influx of migrants from Africa is to assume that this is a short-term problem and needs mainly a humanitarian answer. “Now More and more politicians realize that migrations from Africa will stay a long-term challenge,” he said.
“There are only two answers to this situation, effective EU border controls and legal ways to immigrate to the EU,” he said. “Such a policy will allow to manage the number of foreign people coming to the EU and to keep the national border inside the EU open.”—Agencies