National MPs and MEPs met on Monday to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the external dimension of asylum and migration policies.
Opening the Second High-level Inter-parliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum in Europe, organised by the European Parliament, EP President David Sassoli said the conference was to come closer to a common, holistic understanding of, and find solutions to, a common European Asylum and Migration Policy. President Sassoli insisted global partnerships have to be transparent and subject to democratic and parliamentary scrutiny. He also called for European search and rescue mechanism at sea, humanitarian pathways and resettlement opportunities as well as work opportunities. This would mean overcoming the Dublin regulation in order to create “authentic cooperation between member states, based on permanent mechanism of solidarity and sharing of responsibilities”. Nobody can confront global challenges alone and should not be left alone.
The Speaker of the Portuguese Parliament, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, emphasised that it was very important to find consensus on a New Pact of Migration and Asylum. The current Portuguese presidency of the Council was putting substantial effort into this and June’s European Council will discuss it. He noted that these questions were not “just about safety and security but also about respecting values and international law” as well as filling labour market shortages. On external cooperation, Rodrigues called for “balanced and far reaching solutions” that will favour countries of origin and transit through dialogue, solidarity and responsibility.
Igor Zorčič, Speaker of the Slovenian National Assembly, supported the partnership with third countries and stressed the need to protect migrants from risks of pandemics, including by offering vaccination. He agreed on the need for progress on the New Pact of Migration and Asylum and expressed “moderate optimism” it will be forthcoming during the upcoming Slovenian Presidency.
Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the German Bundestag, stated the COVID pandemic exposed deep divides and injustices as well as exacerbating already-dire situation globally that could potentially increase migratory pressure on various routes to Europe. According to Schäuble, the need for a common unitary asylum right and standards in the EU with necessary solidarity was undeniable. In view of policy blockages and continued exposure of frontline states, it was clear that “national parliaments and our governments have a contribution to make” so that these central issues for the EU would be resolved.
According to the Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, the pact will resemble a three-storey building, where “the external dimension will be the first floor of the three storey building, the second floor being borders and the third solidarity.” The key was to have balanced and mutually beneficial partnerships to bring about better living conditions so that people stay and flourish in their home countries. He underscored that reaching an agreement on the new Pact for Migration and Asylum “should be a priority across party lines and across national lines” in order to be able to tackle challenges arising in a global and unstable geopolitical environment.
The full event programme is available here. The conference was organised in two session focusing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the external dimension of asylum and migration policies.
- Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
- Opening session with introductory video and welcoming speech by David Sassoli, European Parliament President (14.6.2021)
- Welcoming speeches (14.6.2021)
- Multimedia material