Unable and unwilling to tackle an unprecedented cost of living crisis, Europe’s right-wing is rounding on the easiest target of all time: people on the move.
Migration is back on top of the EU’s political agenda, but nothing has changed when it comes to coherent policies to address the issue. Instead, the Right is pushing for a xenophobic migration policy that poses a threat to fundamental rights and puts people seeking safety in Europe at risk.
The Swedish Presidency is eager to conclude all the ongoing proposals related to migration and the European Commission is trying to seize the moment to get a deal on its European Pact on Migration and Asylum. However, people on the move should not be the collateral victims of political games. Putting in place a bad refugee policy is worse than reaching no deal, if member states cannot agree on a humane and rights-based migration policy. Meanwhile, the EU and member states consistently fail to address the issue of illegal and violent pushbacks.
The Council’s conclusions calling on increased external action and enhancing cooperation on returns and readmission with third countries are only a way for the EU to wash its hands of international responsibilities. Shady deals with third countries are part of the problem not the solution, as has been clearly shown by the EU-Turkey deal. Just ahead of the current summit, the EU commissioner for enlargement participated in the official handover ceremony of the first of the five specialised search and rescue vessels to the Libyan Coast Guard. This comes despite a UN report, from January 2022, which confirms that “Libya is not a safe port of disembarkation for refugees and migrants”.
Under the pressure of upcoming elections, the right-wing is unsurprisingly giving up on its Christian Democratic values and caving in to the far-right, calling for building walls and fences at EU borders. The Left position is clear: no walls.
The EU set a standard for migration when dealing with refugees from Ukraine fleeing Russia’s horrific war of aggression and it showed that solidarity is possible when politicians want it. Almost 8 million Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion crossed into the EU during 2022. Many have returned home, but almost 5 million have registered for temporary protection in the EU. During the same period, EU border agency Frontex recorded 330,000 “irregular arrivals” from the Mediterranean region and the Western Balkans. Last year, 900,000 people applied for asylum in the EU, an area with over 450 million inhabitants.
Solidarity knows no nationality and skin colour and the EU must apply the same standards that allow all people to come in dignity to Europe, with full respect for their rights.
MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) declared: “Accompanied by the hysterical scaremongering of conservatives and far-right parties in the European Parliament and their respective governments, the European Council Summit this week is getting ready to fully eliminate the right to asylum in Europe. Inhumane proposals like externalising asylum procedures to third countries and building Trump-like walls in the EU are casually thrown around under the cloak of “migration management”. What is on the table on externalisation is clearly unacceptable and poses a serious risk to the fundamental rights of people on the move. We do not need more “deals” with third countries, they are part of the problem not the solution. What we need is a humane asylum policy based on solidarity and responsibility-sharing between member states, as well as safe and legal pathways to the EU. Those seeking protection must be the focus of EU asylum and migration policy. We cannot cling to an unjust and inhumane system of isolation and deportation.”