Tomas Tobé wrote that the debate on the external dimensions of immigration and asylum, including effective ways to address the root causes, should not become a taboo in the EU, the world’s largest donor of development assistance.
Tomas Tobé is a Swedish member of the European People’s Party and chairman of the European Parliament’s Development Committee.
UNHCR’s latest data on global displacement shows that most of the more than 82 million displaced persons are in their countries of origin. They are internally displaced persons. In addition, most people crossing international borders are in neighboring countries.
The Syrian civil war has displaced more than 6 million people, of whom nearly 5.5 million are in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt or Iraq. 98% of the nearly 1.5 million refugees in Uganda are from South Sudan, Dem. Representatives of Congo, Burundi, Somalia and Rwanda.
This highlights that the vast majority of displaced people in the world are either in their countries of origin or in neighboring areas. 86% are in developing countries. The global pandemic has further exacerbated the existing tensions in these areas and may become a driving factor for further socio-economic migration.
In the political narrative of the left, European asylum is regarded as the only practical and permanent solution to any injustice in the world. They tried to turn the necessary discussion about the external dimensions of immigration, including effective methods to address the root cause, into a taboo.
However, it is a core part of well-functioning asylum and immigration management. It controls our borders, provides fast and fair asylum procedures, and repatriates those who have not obtained residency rights.
The New Asylum and Immigration Convention correctly attempts to distinguish between people in need of protection and irregular migrants, so as to reduce the pressure on front-line member states and secondary migration destination countries.
In addition, I welcome more attention to the fight against human smuggling networks. Member states should decide on the right to join the EU, not a cynical criminal who does not consider human life or dignity. Their impunity must end.
Last year, there were more than 4 million asylum seekers worldwide, 416,000 of whom sought protection in one of the member states.
The average passing rate of the first instance was 40%. After appeals, fewer than 70,000 people were protected. Therefore, the vast majority of the displaced have never set foot on European soil. This should not weaken the EU’s role as an important geopolitical player.
Migration is caused by underlying factors, and we can solve these reasons. In this regard, as Chairman of the Development Committee, I am very pleased that EU institutions have recently adopted a global European instrument, reaffirming Europe’s actions to promote good governance, sustainable development and economic growth.
The COVAX mechanism provides developing countries with a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus, confirming Europe’s global responsibility and showing how mutually beneficial partnerships with third countries can be.
The European Union is the world’s largest donor of development assistance.
This allows us to take financial and political measures to work with third-country partners to eradicate poverty and corruption, and to strengthen respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, to ensure the sustainable development of developing countries.
Supporting conflict resolution, mediation mechanisms, and democratic development can end hostilities and prevent new conflicts. Investment in key industries, lowering tariffs, and improving production lines can create jobs, which can help circular migration and reduce the desire to live a better life away from home.
We should not discuss immigration without considering our global responsibility to resolve injustices and promote democratic values in countries of origin and/or transit. Nor should we isolate immigration and development assistance policy discussions.
Efficient and effective assistance, with results first, will address the root causes of immigration and reduce irregular immigration to Europe.
The EU will assist more displaced people in third countries than we do in our common territory. Through joint efforts with developing countries, we can support their sustainable development and economic development, and at the same time find durable solutions to the root causes of migration.