In a few years, the Mediterranean sea has become the deadliest crossing for migrants in the world. Last Year 3000 lost their lifes, almost 22 000 since 2000, and the early part of this year appears even more dangerous, since 2000 of them have already died. They are Syrians, Libyans, Eritreans, Sudanese, Somalis, Nigerians.., women, men, children, to flee at the risk of their lives their countries affected by war, civil war, by the chaos, or by a political dictatorship, and the most extreme poverty. And there is no reason to expect that the year 2015 will be a year of return to stability and peace for them. Quite the contrary, Frontex estimated that 500,000 to 1 million migrants or asylum seekers attempt to cross the Mediterranean sea this year.
Faced with these tragedies, with their inexorable rise, the European Union and the Member States must decide to act together, to develop a coherent and long term strategy. To finally implement a migration and asylum policy!
Here I propose that we move around a few principles and strong ideas.
First principle: what is happening today in Italy, Greece or Malta, it is everyone's business and not only of these few countries. The vast majority of migrants and refugees arrive in these three countries, simply because geography has placed them at the gates of Europe, and they are approaching the current areas of conflict.
Second idea: the Member States and the EU must assume a shared responsibility regarding the surveillance of their external borders, maritime, and land borders. Europe must finally develop a European coastguard, in charge of surveillance of its borders, with appropriate and consistent means of surveillance, reconnaissance planes, boats and helicopters aircraft.
Third idea: Europe and the international community must be involved resolutely in tracking down smugglers, these traffickers, guilty of crimes against humanity, dismantle their networks, and bring the culprits to justice. In this regard, the mandate sought by the EU to the United Nations so that the fleet of the voluntary Member States can cruise the Libyan coast to board the boats of smugglers and to dismantle their networks closer to the spot goes in the right direction.
Fourth idea: administrative and judicial asylum procedures must be harmonized to treat in the same rules any application for asylum in the Union, and within the same timelines. The indicative time limit of 6 months provides too many exceptions. And the inviolable principle of the first host country to treat the asylum seekers file leads to overload the border countries. Reflection should be opened on this point.
Fifth idea: key transit countries must be better associated with the fighting against the smugglers and traffickers and must benefit a support from the EU for the security of their borders, and the reception of migrants in their countries.
Sixth idea: the return directive is dated from 2008 and should be revised. The decision of escorting them back to the borders are rarely performed and this legal limbo for migrants to remain on the territory of the EU, while they benefit nor refugee status, nor residence or work permit, is a source of incomprehension for our fellow citizens and injustice for migrants who comply with the law.
Seventh idea: for economic immigration, there is a need to have quotas for legal labour immigration, country by country on the basis of migratory agreements concluded by the Member States, coordinated by the European Commission.
Of course, the causes of migration are numerous, poverty, wars, ethnic conflicts, persecution, discrimination, climate disruption, dictatorships, humanitarian disasters. These are the reasons that drive more and more, men, women and children, to leave their land, their country, to survive.
And it is obviously on these causes that action is required. This is a long term job, very long term job. The eradication of poverty around the world, the end of dictatorial regimes, the stabilization of countries in conflict, peace where there is war, all these objectives must be on the roadmap of the international community, and Europe.
We must intensify efforts to restore peace and stability of the countries of origin and transit of migrants. And support all the initiatives that will be taken under the auspices of the United Nations to rebuild a State in Libya, or in Iraq.
Finally, Europe, and the international community must rethink their development policy in particular for Africa. The emergency requires more than ever to create a global environment suitable to the development of the poorest countries.