Debate on migration flows

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The debate in Strasbourg on migration flows continued for several hours on Monday night and focused mainly on the situation in Lampedusa and Malta and on solidarity.

The war in Libya is causing big migration flows, around 400 000 persons have now left the country. Most of them are guest workers from Tunisia and Egypt, but some are also third country nationals from up to 30 different countries. Egypt and Tunisia have done a heroic effort in taking care of these people. More than 100 000 have also been transported to their home countries with the help of the EU and Member States.

But there is still a small group of people, a few thousand, who cannot return to their home countries Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. We must all take our humanitarian responsibility and give them protection in Europe.

In Lampedusa there are still Tunisians arriving. Sources tell us that they are mainly young unemployed men and Tunisian citizens. A few people from Libya have also arrived in Italy and Malta and asked for asylum.

Altogether there are about 2000 people that are in the need of international protection and have requested asylum in the EU, so far.

There is a lot of talk about activating the temporary protection directive. The directive was a response to the situation in Kosovo in the late 90s, but is has so far not been used. The directive can be used if there is a “mass influx of displaced persons from third countries who are unable to return to their country of origin”. They could then be granted temporary protection without individual assessments. To activate the directive the Commission must propose it and there must be a qualified majority of member states in favour of activating it.

At this point we cannot see a mass influx of migrants to Europe even though some of our member states are under severe pressure. The temporary mechanism is one tool that could be used in the future, if necessary, but we have not yet reached that situation.

The Ministers of Internal Affairs and Migration are meeting on Monday next week to discuss the short- and long-term cooperation with North Africa in the area of migration, and the migratory situation in Member States. The issue of solidarity between Member States will probably also be on the agenda.