European Union Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos underlined during the European Parliament’s plenary debate on migration yesterday that the migration and asylum challenges the EU is currently facing are complicated, as proved by the MEPs questions.
“We are confronted with the highest migratory pressure at our external borders since the Balkan crisis,” Avramopoulos declared, adding that this crisis requires an integrated approach, including foreign and security policies. In addition, the Greek Commissioner highlighted the need for solidarity and responsibility among the EU member states for “building a common European migration and asylum system, with common standards and rights for migrants.”
Furthermore, Avramopoulos said that the Frontex Police and the European Asylum Support Office are useful tools when solidarity is put in practice. “Relocation has been developed by the Commission and we will continue to work on this. We have the early warning mechanism and the possibilities offered by Article 33 of the Dublin III Regulation. Some of these tools have already proven their worth. We need to further develop and use all of them, as appropriate,” he said, declaring that apart from the EU agencies, non-governmental organizations can also assist, while expressing his ideas over the asylum system that should change: “We must ensure protection for all victims and a strong criminal response to traffickers, working closely with all the Justice and Home Affairs Agencies who implement actions on anti-trafficking.”
Avramopoulos also mentioned that there are clear warnings that smuggling is on the rise and the EU needs to increase its response accordingly. “We need to build a stronger criminal justice response to stop this crime, investigating and prosecuting those in charge more severely,” he underlined, adding that the counter-migrant smuggling system needs to focus on the dislocation of the smuggling networks through intelligence sharing between EU country-members, investigation capacity increase and prosecution.