The EU does not want refugees and migrants in its backyard

Do you really know how your Heads of state want to deal with the flow of refugees and migrants coming to Europe? Once you know, will you agree with them?

When our political leaders met last on 16 October they agreed “to stem the flows” of migrants, to strengthen the protection of the EU external borders, and ensure the returns of those who made it to Europe but were denied international protection. I see several highly problematic issues in the implementation of such plan of actions.

One way “to stem the flows” is to put pressure on the country of origin or of transit by applying the “more for more” and “less for less” policy with African and Middle East Countries. As well describe by The Times, it simply means that “Brussels will threaten to withdraw aid, trade deals and visa arrangements if countries such as Niger and Eritrea refuse to take back their economic migrants. The proposals also envisage EU states detaining thousands of migrants to prevent them from absconding to avoid deportation”. Would you agree to remove EU development aid to countries that do abide by EU decision on migration?

The EU wants also to significantly increase the return of people who were denied the refugee status to their country of origin or to safe countries. For the EU, “Increased return rates should act as a deterrent to irregular migration. This is highly problematic for several reasons. How our governments are going to locate those who will be returned to safe countries? For that purpose they want to increase detention of those denied asylum status. However what what will happen to those who benefit from a fundamental right protection – as for example those protected by the right to shelter? As reported by our member FEANTSA, “in quite a few countries there is an unconditional right to shelter for all (by law or in practice) which means that a lot of undocumented migrants are also protected by the right to find refuge in homelessness shelters. In cities like Paris is can be more than 50% of the users of homelessness accommodation. Apart from the hollowing out this (internationally recognised) right, the EC proposals require some “cooperation” with the homelessness sector. Will authorities be able to force homeless shelters to cooperate, will shelters have to declare to authorities the number of irregular migrants they are supporting”. These are important questions for us as hosting Europeans. Would you support the detention of denied asylum seekers? Would you cooperate with the police to turn in undocumented people accommodated in shelters? I would not and as Social Platform we want to stop criminalisation of those who act in solidarity by offering humanitarian assistance.​

I invite you to read the conclusion of the European Council and ask yourself not what they discussed but rather what they did not address. ​As Social Platform, CONCORD Europe and the Platform of Asylum & Migration NGOs we would like to see the Ministers talk about how to improve reception conditions, address the root causes of poverty, climate change and war, and revise and open new regular channels to Europe, also for low-skilled workers as well as improving ways for families to reunite in the EU. As long as alternative and regular channels are not viable, the EUs investment in return and more security and border control defeats its own purpose of combating smuggling (read our blog).