JEF Europe Press Release: Migration, the tragedy Europe is ignoring

Brussels, Europe 13.09.2020. “Not just the livelihoods of the migrants and refugees of Moria, but human dignity and our very own European values were left among the steaming rubble after the large fires that destroyed the camp. The lack of  a common response to migration caused by years of failure of the intergovernmental measures and negligence of member states produced this: 12,000 migrants and asylum seekers stranded in the streets of Lesbos. Among them 4,000 children, of which 400 are unaccompanied minors, who after having lived in indecent facilities with sanitary risks have now lost the roofs of the Moria camp above their heads.” says Leonie Martin, President of JEF Europe.

“This must stop now. By pandering nationalism, we – as a European political community – have failed to put into practice the founding values of our Union. The list of gruesome episodes of xenophobia is dramatically long: for months now migrants have been addressed as the cause of Coronavirus, or treated as bargaining chips on the Greek-Turkish border, or again ignored while attempting to cross the deadliest border in the world”, continues Diletta Alese, Executive Board member of JEF Europe. “Migrants and refugees are people coming to Europe in search of a better life. All we have managed is to treat them as second-class human beings, dehumanise them, and plainly stop caring. The truth is that we are witnessing, daily, the depriving of people’s basic humanity.”

“Proposals for a common European policy on migration and asylum have been gathering dust on desks in Brussels and national capitals, not for lack of ideas, but for lack of political courage. It is the Council’s cowardice which is holding us back. We urge to put forth real common solutions starting with the urgent relocation in safe facilities of all displaced people, alongside the reform of the Dublin Regulation, a European rescue operation system, the establishment of legal channels and human corridors in case of humanitarian emergencies, structured cooperation with democratic countries of departure, and a real plan of global investments based on common values. We urge the German Presidency of the Council to promote swift approval of these proposals, adopting them by qualified majority instead of seeking an unnecessary consensus, always at the lowest common denominator. We will not have a second chance. Today, intergovernmentalism undermines the very values our Unions claims to be founded upon. We are facing the consequences of our indifference”, concludes Martin.



The fire that destroyed the Moria camp is the latest in a series of tragedies to have occurred in the past months. Several shipwrecks have been reported, bodies have been found on the European and African coasts, many people seeking refuge in Europe have died without testimonies. Many others have been forced to go back, deported and detained with no certainty or guarantees for their future or the protection of their rights. In July, at least two Sudanese were killed in a shooting in Libya, while trying to escape after being returned to shore. 

In November 2017, the European Parliament approved a reform of the Dublin III regulation by majority, after a long transpartisan discussion. This regulation sets the standards to build a first real common European asylum scheme. The reform, in the form approved by the European Parliament, has never been adopted by the European Council.

According to the Treaties, the EU has the competence to develop common asylum and immigration policies through the ordinary legislative procedure which means that unanimity is not legally required within the Council. Despite this however, the European Council and Council keep blocking advancements on these policy areas in view of reaching political consensus.


Other references

Press release: JEF Europe criticises the lack of European migration and asylum policy – 17 March 2020

[Joint statement] Replace EU-Turkey deal with dignified Migration policy –  21 March 2017 

Resolution: For a common migration and asylum policy and a new EU strategy in the Southern Neighbourhood21 October 2018 

Resolution: Strengthening and Safeguarding Free Movement within the European Union and the Future of Schengen21 October 2018 

Resolution: Towards a strong future-oriented relationship with Africa 5 April 2020

About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 10,000  members active in over 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

Press contact:

Diletta Alese

Executive Board Member