The European Union is facing the largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II. It is a crisis of unprecedented magnitude that originates largely from conflicts, persecution and humanitarian disasters in Europe’s neighbourhood, and beyond. The violent conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, repressive regimes in Eritrea and Sudan, and instability and poverty in other parts of Africa, have forced millions of men, women, and children to flee their homelands in search of safety, protection and a decent life. The migratory challenge is seriously jeopardising the fundamental pillars of European integration which necessitates solidarity among the Member States.
The S&D Group will continually seek to pursue solidarity both within the European Union and internationally. The EU needs a migration policy that allows the EU and its Members States to take their full share of responsibility for the refugee situation, and to be a generous and trustworthy actor in the international community.
A strategy for successfully and sustainably dealing with the refugee situation requires a clear commitment to implement common European responsibility in the area of migration. This position paper presents the essential elements of this commitment.
The past years and months have clearly demonstrated that the European Union asylum and migration policy is not fit for purpose and needs a fundamental rethink.
Article 80 TFEU puts the principles of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility at the heart of the whole European system, providing a legal basis for the implementation of these principles in EU policies on asylum, migration and border control.
While acknowledging the challenge with which all Member States are confronted when managing their borders responsibly, this needs to be done in a way that does not impede access to protection for people who need it. The fact, that even today, access to an asylum procedure is not always guaranteed at the EU's external borders, and that people are being pushed back, goes against the fundamental values of the EU and international law. As well as promoting measures for protection-sensitive border management that fully respects the universal right to apply for asylum, we call on the EU and its Member States to give effective help to those Member States confronted with extreme pressure. Relocation and resettlement of beneficiaries of international protection and asylum seekers, as well as their swift and full integration into Member States are concrete forms of solidarity and responsibility sharing. More needs to be done at European and Member State level with respect to all of these measures. Socialists and Democrats believe that the political will which is required by the EU to manage the protection of refugees within its borders, should be pursued with equal determination in European action beyond those borders.
The immigration and asylum policies of the EU must be seen as part of a bigger picture and properly take into account the external dimension, which is key for dealing with the root causes of migration. Actions in this field must be co-ordinated with other policies ranging from the CFSP/CSDP, Enlargement and European Neighbourhood policy, Development Cooperation, and Human Rights to Trade, Social and Employment Policy, Education, Training and Budgetary issues.
Taking account of the limited resources, we insist on the need for better, more effective coordination of funding based on a careful needs assessment. Targeted support for relevant NGOs working and making a difference on the ground should be ensured. There is, furthermore, a need for better internal coordination and cooperation among the relevant parliamentary committees, the Commission and its Directorate Generals, the Union Agencies and the EEAS.
The S&D Group fought to have a strong and better funded Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and now Member States must make full use of the resources provided under this Fund, as well as the European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in line with their own policies to set up and develop meaningful integration strategies at local, regional and national level.
The S&D Group is committed to ensuring that a ‘European Policy on Migration’ is based on a holistic European approach underpinned by solidarity, cooperation and trust between Member States fulfilling their responsibilities in line with the fundamental and gender sensitive values of the European Union. All this should be done in close cooperation with origin, transit and destination countries with a view to managing migratory flows, tackling the root causes of irregular migration and promoting safe routes for legal migration.