Tomorrow 8 December, at 10:30, the Party of European Socialists (PES) Group in the European Committee of the Regions will host a debate with Salvatore Martello, Mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa (Italy) and Mike Schubert, Lord Mayor of Potsdam (Germany) to discuss the views of progressive local and regional authorities on the new European Pact on Migration and Asylum and share best practices of progressive cities and regions from across the European Union, as those directly responsible for reception and integration of refugees and migrants.
“Migration flows must be ‘managed’, one cannot think of ‘stopping’ them. I am puzzled by some of the contents of the new EU Pact, which seem to focus on return policies rather than on solidarity. It is right to grant to ‘refugees’ the right to stay but can we imagine return procedures for everyone else? I am referring to the so-called ‘economic migrants’ who represent the majority of people arriving in Europe: every human being must be able to aspire to a better life and future, and must be able to do so with full respect for their human and civil rights. Moreover, the Lampedusa experience brought another aspect into light: measures are needed to meet the needs and specific characteristics of the border territories, otherwise the debate on migration flows will never be fully addressed”, said Totò Martello ahead of the debate.
“The question of what a common European asylum and migration policy should look like has remained unanswered since 2015. The conditions in the refugee camps in southern Europe, especially on the Greek islands, are inhuman. In the debate on the admission of refugees, we very often talk about ceilings and not enough about the local distribution process. Admission and integration policy are not tasks that are associated together. This is a huge misunderstanding of our asylum policy. As the German cities’ ‘Safe Haven’ alliance, our goal for the coming year is to package the European municipalities’ activities and form a European city alliance. For European solidarity”, added Mike Schubert.
“The 5-year deadlock between Member States on a common asylum and migration system had inestimable human cost. However, the new Pact should not be the lowest common denominator. We need a functioning system that respects human rights and the rule of law. A system of genuine solidarity, through equitable and proportionate share and responsibilities, fully acknowledging the role of local and regional authorities in migration, asylum and integration”, recognised Antje Grotheer, Vice-President of Bremen City Parliament, PES Group member and rapporteur on the Pact for the European Committee of the Regions.
Note to the editors:
The debate can be followed at this link (interpretation is provided).
The Pact for Migration and Asylum will also be discussed during the plenary of the European Committee of the Regions on 10 December at the presence of European Commissioner Ylva Johansson. More information is available here.
The opinion by Antje Grotheer will be adopted in the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) of the European Committee of the Regions on 16 February and then in plenary on 17-18 March. The working document is available here.