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Kamall: The EU needs to answer tough questions to resolve Med disasters

29 April 2015

Kamall: The EU needs to answer tough questions to resolve Med disasters

Speaking in a debate in the European Parliament on last week’s EU summit, European Conservatives and Reformists Group leader Syed Kamall said that EU leaders have taken an important step forward, but serious questions must be answered both to stabilise the region, process applications, discourage people from making the journey, and target people traffickers.

Speaking in a debate in the European Parliament on last week’s EU summit, European Conservatives and Reformists Group leader Syed Kamall said that EU leaders have taken an important step forward, but serious questions must be answered both to stabilise the region, process applications, discourage people from making the journey, and target people traffickers. He also said that EU countries with little immigration should take more people fleeing persecution, but that arrangement should be based on ‘mutual trust’, rather than compulsion through so-called ‘shared solidarity’ (i.e. quotas).

Speaking in the parliament debate with the Commission and European Council Presidents, he said:

“My parents came to Britain for a better life. A better life for them and their children. Had they not taken that leap. Had they not left their homes. My life would be very different. When I see poverty or tragedies like this, my heart wishes we were able to offer that opportunity to everyone. But my head tells me we cannot.

“To solve this crisis, there is no easy answer. Those who say we should turn everyone away, and those who say we should let everyone in, are both wrong.

“Can we find a way for those fleeing persecution to seek asylum without having to make this perilous journey? And can we do this without creating camps on the other side of the Mediterranean? I would very much hope the commission can address these important questions.

“Those who seek asylum should be told quickly if they meet the criteria. If they are unsuccessful, they need to be returned quickly. If they are offered refuge, will it be permanent or will countries be able to ask them to return home when the reason for their asylum is no longer relevant?

“Last week’s European Council was an important step forward: Help for rescue operations, targeting people traffickers who profit from the misery of others, helping to alleviate the problems of those at the sharp end.

“In reality, we won’t solve this problem until we stabilise the region and this will take time. Our Member States must use all the tools available to them: diplomacy, targeted aid, open trade. But we also need to distinguish between economic migration and helping genuine asylum seekers. The asylum system must not be conflated with the migration system otherwise we undermine public trust in both. Asylum must be about people running for their lives, not for people who understandably want a better economic life.

“So seeking new forms of legal migration will not resolve this problem. The Blue Card system is aimed at attracting skilled migrants. Not those fleeing for their lives. Some speak of compulsory “Shared Solidarity”. But there is little talk of the mutual trust that is lacking between our Member States. 75 percent of asylum applications take place in six countries: Germany, Sweden, Italy, France, Hungary, United Kingdom. Some of which are already facing pressures from legal migration. And let us not forget that tiny islands like Lampedusa see tens of thousands of people set sail for them.

“So if we want to stop these tragedies, we have to start answering difficult questions: Are we prepared to help process applicants swiftly and discourage people from making the journey? Are we prepared to target and take out the people traffickers? Are we prepared for those EU countries with little immigration to take more of those fleeing persecution? To reduce the pressure. To reduce the suffering. To reduce the tragic scenes on EU countries’ borders.”

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