The Central Library attended a briefing with the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, Mr Jean Asselborn, at the European Policy Centre.
In Asselborn’s view, the refugee crisis had several causes: war in Syria was one of the most direct ones, but the role played by climate change and pauperisation of farmers in the northern parts of Africa and in the Middle East should not be overlooked. Migration was a process that had been going on for years. The number of detected illegal border-crossings in the EU had started to surge in 2011, as thousands of Tunisians began to arrive on the Italian island of Lampedusa following the onset of the Arab Spring. Sub-Saharan Africans who had previously migrated to Libya followed in 2011-2012, fleeing unrest in the post-Gaddafi era. The most recent surge in border-crossings detected along the EU’s maritime borders had been attributed to the growing numbers of Syrian, Afghan and Eritrean migrants and refugees.
While outlining the European measures already taken to deal with the current situation, Asselborn stressed the importance of respecting those decisions, whose implementation depended purely on the political will of Member States. During the Luxembourg Presidency in the second half of 2015, a package of three different methods to control and distribute the waves of migrants arriving in Europe was agreed. That package consisted of ‘relocation’, ‘resettlement’ and ‘hotspots’.
Mr Asselborn also stressed the need for European solutions to common challenges, and outlined his views on ways to maintain the integrity of the Schengen area, including by strengthening the joint management of the EU’s external borders.
The upcoming European Council meeting (18-19 February) will look at the implementation of the decisions already taken and prepare the ground for future decisions to be taken at its next meeting in March. Discussions will focus on humanitarian assistance, external border management, the implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan and the operation of hotspots.
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