The European Council is currently in the process of updating ministers from various European Union member states on a contentious agreement between the EU and Tunisia. The discussion is centered around the EU’s ongoing efforts to address the challenges posed by migration crises.
Belgium’s Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Nicole de Moor, emphasized the urgency of the situation during a meeting with her EU counterparts. She pointed out that Belgium is slated to assume the rotating presidency of the EU Council in January, leaving them with a mere 40 to 50 days to finalize the necessary legislation. De Moor urged fellow ministers in Brussels to collaboratively chart a path forward, particularly regarding the remaining migration proposals related to handling sudden surges in irregular migration during crisis situations.
Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission, also stressed the importance of swift action. He called on member states to reach a consensus on the text, stating that doing so would undermine the claims of demagogues and populists within Europe who assert that the migration situation cannot be resolved. Schinas expressed optimism about the current state of negotiations, asserting that Europe is now closer than ever to finding a resolution to this long-standing issue.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser expressed support for a migration deal and underscored the need for collective European action. She emphasized the importance of assisting regions that are overwhelmed by migration, such as Italy and certain German regions. Faeser called for the reduction of irregular migration and advocated for proper asylum procedures. She stressed the necessity of an effective crisis response mechanism while ensuring access to asylum procedures and safeguarding the fundamental rights of applicants, even in crisis situations. Germany also pushed for exemptions for children, although a broad majority for this proposal was lacking.
Italy’s Interior Minister, Matteo Piantedosi, shared his confidence that deportation numbers would increase following the approval of a new security decree targeting refugee minors who falsely claim to be underage. He reported a significant rise in the number of irregular immigrants deported compared to the previous year. Piantedosi highlighted the government’s commitment to addressing migration-related challenges and ensuring public safety.
The discussion at the meeting also touched on the EU’s comprehensive package of new migration laws. While progress has been made in various areas, the focus remains on establishing a legal framework to handle crises akin to the mass migration experienced in 2015/2016. Achieving an agreement on this issue is seen as a crucial step in addressing the migration problem and countering the arguments of populists and demagogues.
Other topics on the agenda included the EU’s deal with Tunisia, potential permanent residence for Ukrainian refugees, and the importance of addressing the root causes of migration.
Overall, the EU is at a pivotal moment in its efforts to address migration challenges, with member states actively engaged in negotiations and discussions to find common ground and implement effective policies. The urgency of the situation is underscored by the approaching assumption of the EU Council presidency by Belgium and the need to demonstrate Europe’s ability to manage migration effectively.