Solidarity must be the principle upon which any action on migration is based – Metsola

MEP Roberta Metsola presents the media with bi-partisan report about a holistic approach to immigration. The report was presented to the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs earlier last week.

PN MEP Roberta Metsola
PN MEP Roberta Metsola

Solidarity must be the principle upon which any action on migration is based, and it must remain at the forefront of the EU’s discussions going forward, PN MEP Roberta Metsola said.

Speaking during a media briefing, Metsola discussed a report she had co-authored with Italian socialist MEP Kashetu Kyenge, which was presented to the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs last week.

Metsola explained that the report goes into detail on every aspect of migration and outlines how the EU should respond to the influx of migrants.

“There is no quick fix to migration. We need to look at every single aspect and come up with an all-encompassing plan,” Metsola said.

“When last year we were tasked with preparing a bi-partisan approach to the European Parliament’s response to migration, we knew it would be challenging. We did not know that we would be doing this in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, exasperated by the rise of populist movements across the continent and hampered by the security challenges we face as a continent,” she added.

Discussing refugees who attempt perilous overseas journeys, Metsola said that more needs to be done to prevent loss of life at sea.

“We are calling for a permanent Union response in search and rescue operations,” she  said, referring to the recently proposed European Border and Coast Guard, which aims to replace FRONTEX, and is meant to ensure integrated border management at the external borders with a view to managing migration effectively and ensuring a high level of internal security.

“Any holistic approach to migration must necessarily contain measures aimed at disrupting the activities of criminal networks,” she said, adding that this should also be coupled with financial investigations aimed at tracking and confiscating profits to such organisations.

Metsola further said that the abolition of internal border controls in Schengen has to go hand‑in‑hand with strengthening external borders.

“The EU needs to strengthen its border protection, and more measures are necessary to enhance the capacity of the Schengen Area to address the new challenges facing Europe and preserve the fundamental principles of security and free movement of people.”

Discussing security issues, metsola said that everyone must feel safe in European r cities.

“Security fears caused by an influx of people exist and states must fulfill their obligations at the external borders if these fears are to be in any way allayed,” she said, adding however, that integration tough to be seen as a two-way process.

“It almost goes without saying that people granted protection must be given all the rights they are entitled to, and we must do more to keep families together, but at the same time it is also fair to expect respect for the values upon which our Union is built.”

The report also mentions issues like labour exploitation and advocates taking a dual approach of prosecuting those who abuse while protecting the victims.

The MEP also highlighted the necessity to improve the effectiveness of the Union’s return system for those not eligible for asylum, as well as a need for states to fulfill their obligations in resettlement of those in need of protection, particularly by means of binding legislation.

Metsola added that the report also looked into the resolution of root causes of migration such as war, poverty, corruption and hunger.

“We understand that in the long-term greater commitment is needed in solving the geo-political issues that affect the root causes of migration, which essentially mean that people will still feel forced to flee to Europe unless Europe also looks at how to help re-build those countries.”

The report also points out that the in terms of the recent EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan, it was necessary need for all parties to fulfil the agreement and for Turkey to fulfil its commitments to prevent irregular migration flows from its territory to the EU.

Members of the committee are expected to make amendments and suggestions to the report by the end of February, and the European parliament is expected to vote on the report by April this year.