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EU leaders must stop offloading responsibility on migration onto other countries
At their informal summit in Salzburg today, EU heads of state and government chose to pursue half-baked proposals on migration that Oxfam believes run contrary to the EU’s fundamental values. The collective failure of EU leaders to adopt a sensible approach to migration through reform of Europe’s asylum system means innocent people will continue to be trapped in appalling conditions both within and beyond EU territory.
Oxfam’s EU migration policy advisor, Raphael Shilhav, said:
“For more than two years now, EU leaders have been trying to dump the responsibility for supporting refugees and migrants onto other countries. This has only increased the suffering of these people both in Europe and in neighbouring countries.
“Plans to disembark people rescued at sea in North African countries like Egypt are based on false assumptions and insufficient analysis. They will duplicate and potentially eclipse the failures of the current EU 'hotspot' centers where thousands of refugees and other migrants are trapped in overcrowded camps in appalling conditions that violate their rights.
“A reform of the European asylum system is the only solution that can work for member states and people in need of our support. The European Parliament has made a concrete proposal but the Austrian EU presidency and too many other EU leaders remain unwilling to share responsibility for the few asylum seekers reaching Europe’s shores.
“The proposed summits between the EU and the African Union and between the EU and the League of Arab States are good opportunities for leaders to cooperate as equals. They should agree on ways to protect refugees and migrants against violations of international law, and to promote human rights and sustainable development.”
- Spokespeople are available for interviews and background information.
- At the June EU summit, leaders failed to agree on reforms to the common European asylum system, instead allowing internal rows to shape the EU’s migration policy. They called for the development of “controlled centers” on EU soil, and “regional disembarkation platforms” in third countries. On 24 of July, the European Commission published a non-paper adding more detail to these plans.
- Oxfam has produced an overview of the EU’s migration plans, that summarizes and compares three potential future scenarios: the creation of ‘controlled centers’, the establishment of ‘disembarkation arrangements’ with North-African governments, and the reform of the European Asylum System. This overview also exposes the flaws and failings of the current EU ‘hotspot’ model, which the ‘controlled centers’ would seek to replicate.
- The European Parliament adopted its position on a reform of the European Asylum System in November 2017. It calls for a “fairer, more effective European asylum policy”.
- In September 2018, the number of asylum seekers on the Greek islands reached the unprecedented figure of 20,000. Oxfam calls on the EU and the Greek government to immediately end this containment policy and help people to safety on the Greek mainland.
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