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ECR Policy Group on Migration

Migration is the defining challenge of our time. The ECR must spare no resource to take the lead on this issue to counter the weak, ineffective and damaging legislative proposals that are coming from the Commission.

In the decades leading up to 2015, the establishment in the European Union - and in many Member States - have tried to avoid the thorny issue of migration and have thus preserved a series of naïve policies that were designed in and for a bygone era. Despite a growing realisation, among the electorates across the continent, that the current migration policies have failed, EU institutions (in particular the European Commission and the European Parliament) have learned little and done even less to find new, realistic and effective ways forward.

Given the projected population growth in Africa and the Middle East, the migratory pressure on EU Member States will not stop. The issues of migration and integration will keep growing in importance until the EU and its Member States will find a shared and effective policy equilibrium.

The Commission – partly because of disagreements among Member States, but also because of the views expressed by the European Parliament – has not yet started addressing all the cultural, religious and economic issues caused by decades of failed migration policies. It is yet to propose real and sustainable solutions as per how European countries are meant to maintain their social models in the face of a declining social cohesion, as well as integrate those migrants that are already settled in our societies (not to mention those it has proposed to take in the future).

There are many examples of the Commission ignoring the fundamental underlying issues: among them, its refusal to acknowledge the basic right of Member States to control migration volumes and its continued refusal to fund physical border barriers (despite pleas from a dozen Member States) stand out. Instead of proposing effective solutions, the Commission focused its efforts – as it always does during times of crises – on proposals whose only effect would be that of increasing the powers of European institutions at the expenses of Member States. In practical terms, the Commission’s proposed migration pact would not solve the underlying issue but rather abolish most of the national prerogatives on this policy area.

Migration flows will continue as long as migrants illegally entering the EU are rewarded for their efforts. Moreover, legislation and procedures cannot be changed if policymakers and courts keep following outdated international treaties and agreements. European institutions must therefore be persuaded to reform and reinterpret international obligations and allow Member States to institute all the necessary legal mechanisms and capabilities for the repatriation those asylum seekers that have been denied refugee status. Furthermore, the EU must let Member States have an effective control of their external borders and finance the border infrastructures needed to repel migrants that are used as a hybrid weapon to attack our continent.

Many relatively richer countries across the world face similar migratory pressures, and EU decision makers could learn important lessons and insights studying the cases of Australia, Japan or Denmark (which has retained the right to conduct its own asylum and migration policy independently from the EU).

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