For a common migration and asylum policy and a new EU strategy in the Southern Neighbourhood

Resolution submitted by: JEF Political Commission 3 – External Affairs and Global Governance

Adopted by the Federal Committee, Turku, October 21st, 2018

Conflicts, political turmoil, economic disparities in the Middle East and Africa as well as climate change generate a flow of migrants towards Europe. The European Union, so far, proved itself totally unprepared for facing this unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Member States are reacting unilaterally and against the common interest. Their actions are ineffective and damaging to major European achievements, such as the Schengen Agreement and generally undermine the peaceful cooperation between member States. The Young European Federalists urges the EU to give a stronger common response to this global challenge, in the field of migration, asylum policy and border control as short-term measures. A long-term solution necessitates a common foreign policy, and a redefinition of the European Neighbourhood Policy towards the Southern Mediterranean region.

JEF Europe,

  1. Referring to Art. 8 TEU that commits the EU to develop a special relationship with its neighbours, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation;
  2. Observing that the EU’s policy towards its neighbours has so far failed in its own scope of creating a “circle of partners” around its own territory;
  3. Concerned that the political situation in Syria, Libya and Eritrea combined with poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and growing negative effects of climate change, generated a massive flow of migrants coming to the EU;
  4. Acknowledging that the effects of climate change are likely to lead to the continuation of arrivals of climate refugees in Europe;
  5. Deploring that the EU has been so far sidelined by their Member States and are incapable of developing a common strategy, speaking with one voice and acting consequently;
  6. Further deploring that some members states, viewing their national interests as opposed to the common European interest, have actively obstructed Commission proposals for a collective approach, and in doing so put at risk major achievements of the European integration process, such as the freedom of movement;
  7. Noting that the number of arrivals in the EU has drastically decreased since 2015;
  8. Keeping in mind that, especially considering the case of Syrian refugees, the closest neighbours to Syria, such as Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, are shouldering the heaviest burden of hosting refugees, even beyond their capacities;
  9. Deploring that the European Union has given more than six billion euros between March 2016 and the end of 2018 to Turkey to detain migrants in bad conditions on its shores;
  10. Deploring that Turkey uses its role of “border guard” of the European Union to try to force an acceleration of its accession and visa liberalisation process to the European Union.
  11. Keeping in mind that a low level of economic development is one of the root causes of migration;
  12. Deeply concerned that some Member States have refused to welcome ships, such as the Aquarius in the summer of 2018, rescuing migrants and refugees’ lives, in the Mediterranean, in their ports, and this is in breach of international law;
  13. Convinced that, EU led, search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean and in the Aegean Sea are necessary to save lives
  14. Believing that the Schengen area and the freedom of movement are two of the greatest achievements of the EU and that they should be preserved;
  15. Emphasising that the fundamental rights and duties of a human being declared in the European Convention of Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must always be respected;

JEF Europe, therefore,

  • Believes that a successful response to the so-called migration crisis across the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean will only come from tackling the root causes, such as wars, violations of human rights, instability, poverty, the lack of economic opportunities and climate change in the European neighbourhood and beyond;
  • Calls for an EU policy for the Mediterranean region, ensuring a broad and intensified cooperation with third countries through the Union for the Mediterranean and other multilateral fora in order to fight human trafficking networks;
  • Calls the EU to stop using readmission agreements as the main tool to fight against illegal immigration, mostly because this encourages human rights violations, such as the non-refoulement principle guaranteed by the Geneva Convention;
  • Insists on the need for an EU policy on asylum, subsidiary protection and temporary protection which fully complies with binding obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and respects the non-refoulement principle;
  • Insists that the European Border and Coast Guard Agency is tasked with search and rescue in the Mediterranean and in the Aegean Sea and demands the transformation of Operation Themis in a wider and focused EU search and rescue operation of people in distress;
  • Invites the EU and its Member States to provide transit countries, with assistance and humanitarian supplies to be dedicated to the reception of refugees, using the EU Civil Protection Mechanism;
  • Calls on the EU to develop humanitarian legal ways to safely reach the EU, without being forced to rely on illegal human trafficking such as humanitarian visas to refugees and for the establishment of common European asylum offices in third countries respecting European standards of treatment and human dignity;
  • Encourages the EU to open legal channels for economic migration and facilitate cross-border mobility for cultural and educational exchanges;
  • Condemns any proposal aimed at solving this so-called refugee crisis by building walls and fences;
  • Supports the critical position expressed by the UNHCR on the general terms agreed under the EU-Turkey joint action plan concerning the legal issues related to the full respect of provisions of the 1951 Geneva Convention and to the poor guarantees the Turkish Government can offer regarding the respect of human rights and of the principle of non-refoulement;
  • Calls for the respect of Art. 78-79-80 TFEU, in particular when it invokes the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between the Member States;
  • Furthermore calls on the European Commission to consider infringement procedures against non-compliant Member States;
  • Calls on the EU to accelerate the phasing out of the Dublin regulations and adopt a fully European asylum policy. This European asylum policy could especially consist of assigning important financial sanctions for member States that don’t respect the migration quota;
  • Invites the European Union to increase cooperation with its Southern neighbours, in the fields of democratic transition, education, health, culture, training and youth;
  • Demands a new partnership to overcome the short-term vision and utilitarian policy adopted so far by Member States, that trades aid to African states against the return of migrants;
  • Demands the reopening of borders where they have been closed and an end to border control where it has been reinstated inside the Schengen area without delay;
  • Condemns the criminalisation of NGOs operating in search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean Sea made by several EU Member States’ governments;
  • Commits itself to defending freedom of movement and promoting initiatives; reaching out to civil society organisations and European citizens to make them more aware of the need to invest on our principles and values; defend our achievements and fight fear and populism, because Europe is a point of reference of democracy and civil rights for non-European citizens, especially young people, who live at the EU’s borders;
  • Encourages the EB to explore possibilities to reach out to young migrants, and to find opportunities for cooperation and exchange with youth organisations from Southern Mediterranean countries.

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