Introducing a session on EU migration and asylum policies at the GUE/NGL study days in Florence this morning, German MEP Cornelia Ernst said that with 52 million refugees worldwide in 2013 and 3000 new refugees arriving in the EU every day in 2014, the EU has to find new ways of dealing with the phenomenon.

In the EU, the myth of 'illegal migration' is put on the same footing as organised crime, human trafficking and terrorism,” said Ernst. “There are many moments in peoples' lives when they don't have papers but this doesn't mean they are terrorists. Current EU policy can only be described as inhumane.”

She went on to describe the various EU systems currently in place – FRONTEX, EURASUR, the Dublin system, EURODAC or Schengen – and demanded an end to these.

We have to introduce legal channels for migration into the EU and a more humane policy,” she continued. “Our main task as the Left in Europe is to defend individual rights for asylum seekers and guarantee their dignity. The right to asylum was one of the greatest achievements of civilisation after the Second World War and must be defended. There has to be solidarity with migrants whatever their origin.”

“Migration is now seen as an economic phenomenon although many of these people are fleeing wars and other disasters,” said Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli, before going on to say that the “chaos that has been triggered with the war on terrorism since 9/11 has been left out of all calculations of migratory flows”.

She denounced member states for getting around their own constitutions and international conventions to do what they want in the field of migration, for example by introducing urgent legislation when an emergency arises and going back to the status quo when it is over.

“Insistence on the economic aspects of migration means that quotas are introduced and we are prevented from seeing the bigger picture of migratory flows. As the Left, we should be looking at other alternatives. We need to create new welfare systems, new ways of inclusion. We have to call for the mutual recognition of asylum and for Dublin III to be scrapped.”

The second part of the session examined international instability and the origin and transit situation in countries.

Spanish MEP Javier Couso said that the global north will always be able to absorb migrants.

He said: “We should look at the reasons why people are being thrown out of their countries. What's happening is often closely related to colonialism and post-colonialism, an active prevention of any process of self-determination and the active and violent prevention of any integration. Migration is a weapon and people forced into migration become weapons. Forced migration and impoverishment are not natural disasters, they are man-made.

“We should support the integration of countries in their regions as well as provide cooperation and development aid. We must promote a policy of peace and non-militarism as well as being wary of spurious mentions of human rights. We have a huge debt to the countries we exploited in the past.”

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