07 February 2023
The call comes in a letter signed by the prime ministers of Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Latvia and Slovakia that argues "the current asylum system is broken and primarily benefits the cynical human smugglers who take advantage of the misfortune of women, men and children."
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The letter (pdf) is addressed to Charles Michel (current President of the European Council) and Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission) in advance of the European Council meeting on Thursday and Friday this week.
It says that "the European asylum system and its very low rate of returns constitute a pull factor," arguing that this is the reason "third country nationals who are not in need of international protection will keep risking their lives on the dangerous journeys towards Europe."
Thus, despite the "socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic [and] structural factors such as climate change, population growth and conflicts, as well as the hybrid attack and the instrumentalisation of migration by authoritarian regimes," all of which the prime ministers consider are likely to "exacerbate irregular migration," the letter argues that what the EU needs is a crackdown.
"We invite the Commission to present a comprehensive European whole-of-route approach for all relevant migratory routes," says the letter.
"Such an approach should aim to address pull factors, including through the necessary legal and technical adjustments. In this regard, we should be open to explore new solutions and innovative ways of tackling irregular migration and prevent flows, including by looking into new and effective approaches with partner countries," it continues (emphasis added).
There is however nothing particularly innovative in the proposed measures, which cover:
The demands largely reflect those already set out in the draft European Council conclusions published by Statewatch last week.
A draft “action file on Libya” is circulating within the Council of the EU. A version from January obtained by Statewatch indicates that there will be a fresh push to improve the ability of authorities in Libya to control the country’s southern borders and to prevent refugees from leaving the country by sea.
On 9 and 10 February the European Council will meet to approve conclusions on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the economy and migration. A draft version of the conclusions, published here, reinforces longstanding calls to increase the externalisation of migration controls.
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