On the occasion of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the European Commission and the High Representative made the following statement:
“The history of humankind is a history of migration. For thousands of years people have migrated from one place to another, for a variety of reasons, and continue to do so: Today, there are 258 million international migrants worldwide.
On International Migrants Day, the European Union reaffirms its enduring commitment to protect migrants' human rights, to prevent perilous irregular journeys and ensure opportunities for legal and safe pathways instead.
In order to do this, we are working with all our partners around the world - countries of origin, transit and destination and international organisations. Migration requires global, cooperative alliances: No country can address migration on its own - neither in Europe nor elsewhere in the world. This is the core message of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which will provide the global framework for improving migration management. It is by working together, in the spirit of shared responsibility, that we can jointly turn migration from a common challenge into a shared opportunity.
The European Union's comprehensive approach on migration is built in the same vein: seeking to address the drivers of irregular migration; fighting against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings; ensure adequate protection for those in need, better manage Europe's external borders, while enabling legal migration channels. For the benefit of all of us."
With the European Agenda on Migration, the European Commission proposed on 13 May 2015 a far-reaching strategy, to equip the EU with the tools to better manage migration in all its aspects, from immediate challenges, as well as in the medium and long term.
The EU's comprehensive approach on migration is delivering on all fronts: deeper cooperation with partner countries; better-protected external borders; and more effective tools to manage migration inside the EU.
Internally, the European Union has set up effective tools to manage migration. A lot of efforts have been invested into the reform of the EU's asylum rules, with 5 out of the Commission's 7 initial proposals ready for adoption. For stronger border management, the Commission has recently proposed to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard as well.
EU funding under the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund helps Member States' strengthen labour market integration and social inclusion. Projects under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme are putting specific priorities on protecting and supporting victims amongst vulnerable groups, including migrant women and children. With the proposal for the next long-term EU budget, the Commission put efficient migration management as one of its top mainstreamed priorities across different policy areas.
In its external dimension, the integrated, "whole of the route" approach has led to major achievements by the EU and its Member States.
EU Operations active in the Mediterranean have contributed to saving over 690,000 lives at sea. The European Union is further strengthening cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination as well as international organisations to assist migrants and refugees, to ensure the respect of their human rights, improve their living conditions as well as fight smugglers and traffickers. At the same time, work to ensure legal pathways is under way with more than 44,000 resettlement places offered in the past three years and more than 50,000 expected by autumn 2019, as well as with ongoing discussions on an improved Blue Card for highly skilled third-country nationals and the preparation of pilot projects for labour migration.
The trilateral cooperation by the African Union, European Union and the United Nations has assisted over 39,000 people to return voluntarily from Libya to their countries of origin in the past two years. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Return has assisted over 55,000 people with post-arrival and reintegration support so far.
To address root causes and offer socio-economic opportunities in countries of origin and transit, the EU's Trust Fund for Africa has mobilised more than €4 billion for important initiatives on the ground.
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