Flight from north African unrest: a long-term solution needed
MEPs believe that the EU-Libya cooperation agreement on migration - currently suspended - should be reinstated as soon as a new transition government able to respect human rights is in place. This move as well as measures to fight unemployment in migrants' countries of origin and of transit were highlighted on Wednesday in a draft resolution by the Foreign Affairs Committee as the best ways to tackle illegal immigration from conflict regions.
Regretting that "the only option available" was the suspension of the EU-Libya Cooperation Agenda on migration, MEPs stress that the suspension "should be revoked as soon as there is a new transitional government willing to promote a democratic and human rights based implementation of the agreement". Similar migration agreements should be reached with other EU neighbouring countries, said MEPs in the draft resolution, which was adopted by 53 votes to 1, with 3 abstentions.
The envisaged deal would help set up a more effective system to manage labour migration in transit countries like Libya and increase their capacity to attract and integrate migrants from their southern borders.
The resolution, drafted by Fiorello Provera (EFD, IT), also calls for the EU budget after 2013 to provide for "emergency and recovery funds": a rapid response to provide relief and assistance for migrants in distress, as well as shelter in the EU for human rights defenders at risk
Member States' solidarity needed
How can a single country like Italy, let alone Malta, cope with the arrival of thousands of illegal immigrants fleeing from the humanitarian crisis in north Africa? Frontex, the EU's border control agency, cannot be the main instrument, argue MEPs. They believe the Council should put in place a burden-sharing Action Plan to help resettle refugees from the region and provide support for displaced persons.
This would require activation of Article 80 of the EU Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which cites the principle of solidarity and fair burden-sharing among all Member States on policies to do with managing border checks, asylum and immigration, including their financial implications.
Stimulating growth at all levels
The only effective long-term solution for preventing a mass influx of migrants from unstable regions is to create new jobs and improve living conditions directly in the countries of origin and transit. EU foreign policy needs to dovetail with EU policies on migration, emphasise MEPs. They propose that EU funds be targeted - in countries of origin and of transit - at long-term projects to create jobs, support SMEs, provide microcredit facilities, empower women and minority groups and maximise local economic development.
At the same time, sanctions should be imposed on countries which fail to respect their governance obligations under trade agreements. A similar conditionality clause should apply to EU development assistance and humanitarian aid, say MEPs.
In the chair of : Gabriele ALBERTINI (EPP, IT)