Auteur: Eric Maurice
The centre-right European Popular Party (EPP) adopted a resolution on migration policy at its congress on Wednesday (21 October), calling for a "complete reform of the European asylum system", a separation of refugees and economic migrants "before their arrival in the EU", a legal migration policy based on labour market needs and a revision of the family reunification EU directive.
The resolution was drafted by EPP interior ministers from Germany, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Spain, Cyprus and Ireland, and preview upcoming debates at EU level.
"We have to quickly go forward," EPP president Joseph Daul told EUobserver, saying that the party intends to put its proposals on the table of the extraordinary meeting of interior ministers that has been called for 9 November, as well as that of the foreign affairs ministers' meeting next week.
The EPP calls for "greater coherence in the EU's internal and external policies and, in particular, its policies in the areas of foreign affairs, security, trade, development, humanitarian aid and migration".
"The EU [must] reinforce its external borders by stepping up border controls both at sea and on land," the resolution reads, calling for an enlarged mandate for Frontex, the EU border agency, to allow to it to lead operations.
'Dublin is undefendable'
EPP ministers have asked the European Commission "to pursue infringement procedures against those Member States which do not comply with their obligation to protect the EU's external borders."
"Non-action will ultimately jeopardise the Schengen i acquis," they say.
The resolution also calls for a revision of Dublin system on examination of asylum claims "where shortcomings have been identified and a complete reform of the European Asylum System in the long term".
"This should include an update of the existing Geneva Convention."
"Dublin has become undefendable," a MEP said. "If the EPP takes this position on reforming it, socialists will take the same position".
However, the EPP admitted, "it is one thing to decide to reform Dublin, it is another to know by what to replace it. It is a delicate issue."
After heated debate between member states, including EPP governments, about relocations and quotas of refugees, the document doesn't explicitly mention the mechanism, but it calls for "the
swift adoption and implementation of the first and second package of the European Agenda on
Migration", in which a permanent relocation mechanism is included.
'More willingness from Arab states'
EPP ministers want to "develop safe zones with reception and accommodation centres and resettlement programmes in third states and when possible in countries of origin" and that "possible refugees and economic migrants should be separated before their arrival in the EU".
This proposition amounts to establishing so-called hotspots, like those being created in Italy and Greece, outside the EU.
They also say that "third countries near crisis regions, such as the Arab Gulf States, [should] show
more willingness to accept and accommodate refugees".
While the resolution calls for "the establishment of a European framework of integration" for the migrants, it says that "criteria for common standards, benefits-in-kind and conditions" should be set up " to prevent disorderly secondary movement throughout Europe".
It also considers that the 1986 EU directive on family reunification "represents a pull factor" and should be revised.
"Member states should clearly define labour market needs for legal migrants," the resolution also says. "Legal migration [should be] based on labour market needs in
member states", with a full use seasonal workers permits or directive on workers mobility in the EU.
"When we are in a period of crisis, we go in the right direction," EPP president Jospeh Daul told this website, referring to the common resolution being drafted despite strong divergences.
"The more the crisis is important, the more solidarity we have."
'Up to the member states'
But at a congress debate on migration on Wednesday evening, EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos i called EU member states, including those run by the EPP, to do more.
"We have the agenda, the policy, the means and the will [to act]. We need support of the member states," he said, regretting that "it took one year to realize that we need to mobilize all our forces".
He said that Frontex now needs 700 people, who should be provided by member states.
"The European Commission has done its part, now it's up to the member states. The Council of the EU has a responsability," Avramopoulos said.
At the same debate, the commission's vice-president for the budget, Kristalina Georgieva i, said that the EU should "turn the migration crisis pyramid upside down".
"We have to address root causes rather than spend bilions of billions of bilions to address to consequences," she said.