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“The immediate priority right now is to close the Mediterranean route, strengthen our external borders and reform the European asylum system. In parallel to this we must support the stabilisation of Libya, finance centres for the support of asylum seekers in transit countries and invest in Africa to provide opportunities for young Africans in their own countries” declared President Tajani in a roundup of his address to the European Council on the migration crises.
Time for answers
“This European Council meeting will be remembered for a long time, but we cannot yet say whether it will be remembered as a success or a failure. That will depend on us, on the responses we offer to our fellow citizens’ most pressing concerns on the migration crisis” opened President Tajani.
“EU citizens are caught in between their humanitarian instincts and their fear of uncontrolled migration. Against that background, the first thing to do is to stop the constant stream of migrants leaving transit countries and the coast of Africa and ensure that only people genuinely entitled to asylum arrive in Europe, and do so safely.
The number one priority, therefore, must be to shut down the Mediterranean routes. Taking our cue from the agreement concluded with Turkey, which led to the Balkan route being shut down, we must invest at least EUR 6 billion in an effort to achieve that objective.”
Strengthening our external borders
“We must also strengthen our external borders, increasing the number of officers of the European Border and Coastguard Service to 10,000. Just as urgently, we need to turn the European Asylum Support Office into a fully-fledged EU agency with greater human and financial resources.”
European Asylum System reform
“The overhaul of the asylum system remains the key to the whole problem. We must simply accept the fact that the Dublin system was designed to deal with normal migration flows, not with migratory pressures on this scale. We all agree, admittedly for differing reasons that it needs to be changed quickly. Parliament already voted by a wide majority in November 2017 a reform proposal which is a sound basis for discussion balancing firmness and solidarity.“
Cooperation with transit countries
“We must build on what is being done in Niger and set up protection and reception centres run by the United Nations and the European Union in as many African transit countries as possible.
We must work with Libya, of course, but also with other countries, such as Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. For this we need more resources for the Africa Trust Fund, which is close to depletion.
In mid-July I will be travelling to Niger, a country with a key role in the context of the migration problem, and I will also be leading an economic diplomacy mission with European entrepreneurs.” emphasised Tajani.
Supporting the stabilisation of Libya
“In the medium term, we need a European effort to stabilise Libya and help with the reconstruction of a state which can act as our partner.
I will be travelling to Libya shortly to discuss the role that the European Parliament can play in that process and in the organisation, in the future, of democratic elections. We are ready to make our resources and skills available, if necessary, for example at a conference held at Parliament which brings all the stakeholders together.” added Tajani
While we speak, our Union is drowning
President Tajani concluded with a latin saying, alerting leaders to the urgent need for concrete actions: “To conclude please allow me, as a Roman, to quote Titus Livius: Dum Romae consulitur, Saguntum expugnatur: whilst Rome talks, Sagunto falls.
If we continue to talk without finding solutions, it will be the European Union and its values which fall. Their conquerors will of course not be migrants, but those who wish to tear down everything we built so painstakingly over the past 60 years.”
Click here for the speech available in all EU official languages (scroll down for respective languages).
To follow President Tajani’s press conference at the European Council at 16:00, please click here.