The European Union has to overcome the paralysing fear and fragmentation of the union in order to effectively manage migration and refugee flow, as believed by many MEPs that participated in the Tuesday’s plenary debates with the President of Netherlands and EU Commission.
According to many MEPs, in order to protect the Schengen Area, it is necessary to properly defend EU’s external borders. MEPs also point to the necessity to maintain the non-refoulement principle and discussed the ways of allocating refugee funding for Turkey, as reported by European Parliament’s press-secretary in Latvia Signe Znotina-Znota.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Konders emphasized that the flow of migrants has to be reduced. Measures should be taken in regards to resettlement and hot-spots. Member states have reached an agreement on this. Konders said there are serious concerns about the humanitarian situation in Western Balkans and certain risks under aged migrants face when first arriving in Europe.
Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopulos admits that up until now there has been weak progress in other member states lately. The list of things that need to be done is long: relocation, settlement, hot spots, returns, etc. In regards to attacks in Cologne, he said not all migrants pose a threat to local residents.
ETP leader Manfred Weber emphasized that EU is in dire need of effective border monitoring. Support should be provided to institutions and Frontex Agency should be provided access to Schengen Information System. «We expect those people that are welcomed and protected in EU countries respect culture and laws of those countries,» – he added.
S&D manager Giovanni Pittella said: «A virus is spreading across Europe. It is a virus of fear», which does not allow EU to make the right decisions and even threatens to destroy it. Pittella warned that the flow of migrants will increase in spring.
Syed Kamall added: «We don’t have months or years to sign EU laws. We have a couple of weeks, at best. If a member state is incapable of managing its borders, […] they should not be surprised when other countries decide to exclude them from the game.» He believes that ‘There is no need to review Schengen rules; they just have to be better applied’.
Guy Verhofstadt, leader of Liberal and Democrat Group, called EU leaders to act in accordance with Section 78 of the EU Treaty to take control over EU external borders and create a rapid-response force. «Europe has to take up this task,» – he said, adding that the decision in regards to this measure may be made at the next meeting of the European Council.
«We need to cooperate more in order to resolve the migrant crisis. It is unacceptable for some member states to selectively decide what they want to realize and what they will not. This undermines the principle of making decisions together,» – believes Dimitros Papadimoulis from Greece. He noted that only 400 out of 160,000 refugees that remain in Greece and Italy are being relocated at this time.
«Wake up! Schengen is in shambles and the European Union has lost. Close the borders and protect you’re the Dutch,» – called MEP Vicky Maeijer from Netherlands.