Refugee crisis: „If Schengen collapses, it’ll be start of end European project”


Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned MEPs the refugee crisis was „getting worse” during a meeting organised by the civil liberties committee on 14 January. He said the EU’s unity was at stake amid an increase of „populism and nationalism”. The commissioner also called on member states to deliver on their own promises and show solidarity to each other: „If Schengen collapses, it will be the beginning of the end of the European project”.

Avramopoulos, who is responsible at the Commission for migration and home affairs, discussed the effectiveness of measures to tackle the refugee crisis so far at the meeting of Parliament’s civil liberties committee presided by UK S&D member Claude Moraes.

Relocation scheme

Last September MEPs backed two emergency proposals to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from EU countries hit hardest by the arrivals of new migrants. However, so far only 272 people have been relocated to other member states. „All member states have to play the game,” said Avramopoulos, stressing that EU countries should not become prisoners of domestic political agendas.

MEPs also referred to the scheme’s lack of success so far. Cornelia Ernst, a German member of the GUE/NGL group, said: „How on earth can we implement anything if member states keep saying no, no, no.”

Need to review existing rules on asylum applications

Existing EU rules concerning refugees are based on the Dublin regulations, which stipulates that asylum demands should be dealt with by the first EU country the applicant entered. During the debate, MEPs and the commissioner generally agreed on the need to revise the legislation. The European Commission will propose new measures in March.

Timothy Kirkhope, a UK member of the ECR group, said: „We do not need gestures dressed up as policies. I hope the Dublin review will be a solid review.”

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photo:©UNHCR/Mark Henley


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