EU's latest Migration Action plan branded 'waste of time'

EU's latest Migration Action plan branded 'waste of time'
On June 27, the MSF team rescued 71 people from a rubber boat in distress. One women died later on board after 30 minutes of resuscitation. Credit: Anna Pantelia/MSF

Migration ministers of EU Member States will convene on Friday for an emergency meeting to discuss the Commission's latest action plan to tackle the issue of migrants entering Europe. Experts have called it "another reshuffle of old ideas that don't work."

Earlier this week, the Commission proposed its "Action Plan for Central Mediterranean" to address the current migration and reception crisis afflicting several EU countries (including Belgium) where the state failures are resulting in thousands of asylum seekers, including minors, sleeping rough.

On the topic of Belgium's humanitarian crisis (so-called by multiple NGOs), State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor has repeatedly argued that the Dublin system needs to be improved to ensure a more balanced and fairer distribution of measures and assistance.

The plan includes 20 measures to address the immediate and ongoing challenges on the world's deadliest sea migration route (Central Mediterranean); it will be presented at the Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting which brings together EU migration ministers.

"Migration is a common challenge that needs to be dealt with jointly by the EU, its Member States and countries of origin and transit. With increased arrivals along the Central Mediterranean and Western Balkan Routes, we need to step up common efforts to provide immediate results,"  Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, said.

Reduce migration

The measures are mainly designed to "reduce irregular and unsafe migration" by working with international organisations and partner countries (Tunisia, Egypt and Libya) to ensure better border management and management of migration.

They also aim to solve challenges in the area of search and rescue by strengthening cooperation between Member States and all actors involved.

Finally, the plan includes means to reinforce solidarity and responsibility between Member States, as requested by de Moor. This will promote the Solidarity Declaration agreed earlier this year to "provide swift support to Member States receiving arrivals by sea."

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While the EU is hopeful this will help reduce the number of migrants entering Europe, Oxfam's EU migration expert Stephanie Pope has warned that it is just "another reshuffle of old ideas that do not work" and only distracts from what actually needs to be done: namely, fixing the EU’s broken asylum system.

“The EU’s response to those fleeing Ukraine shows that where there is political will, there is a way. Instead, the EU continues to throw money at non-EU countries to try to get them to play a role in building the 'fortress Europe'," she said.

Pope noted that this money would do better invested in proper housing for asylum seekers, creating a functioning asylum system and making migration rules that share the responsibility of welcoming people into Europe. “It’s time for real action, not old words packaged into ‘new’ plans.”

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