On Tuesday the 11 October European Parliament’s committees on foreign affairs and development held a joint meeting to discuss European Union’s external action in the context of migration and refugee movements. The meeting also provided and opportunity for participants of the European Youth Event to express their views on the current refugee crises.
The European Youth Event gives young Europeans the possibility of getting involved in pressing political issues and to express their views on political affairs of the European Union. In this hearing Matthäus Fandrejewski, Linda Slapakova and Andrea Gabriela were selected to present their ideas for constructive solutions concerning the Union’s external actions in view of current issues related to migration.
The discussion started off by a controversial idea given by Matthäus Fandrejewski which stimulated intense questioning about the terms of its implementation. He proposed to expand the Union’s diplomatic missions and to provide refugees with the opportunity to apply for asylum already in the area of conflict. Furthermore, he recommended creating an internationally recognised data base in which skills and qualifications of refugees would be saved. The database would enhance the possibility to make full use of refugees’ assets and match them with countries where their expertise is needed. His ideas were closely related to the proposals originally presented by social scientist and director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford Alexander Betts.
Although Fandrejewski‘s ideas promise to help refugees abroad by providing them with legal documents and is therefore likely to discourage them from taking the perilous rout though the Mediterranean Sea at the costs of their lives, Members of the Parliament did not express too much enthusiasm about such ambitious and unconventional approaches. The Parliament emphasised the necessity to combat human trafficking, but fears that this could attract an even greater number of refugees.
Linda Slapakova did not fail to counter this with a critical reminder. She pointed out that Europe is in danger of sacrificing its fundamental principals and values by merely prioritising its own interests without showing a sincere and long-term commitment to improve the security situation and economic situation in its neighbourhood.
Similar to the Union’s current mission, Linda Slapakova proposed to strengthen the corporation between Member States and third countries to deal with organised crime more effectively. She proposed to increase investments in education and vocational training in the countries of emigration and to ensure support for returning refugees by means of reintegration programmes. Nonetheless, she addressed the issues of a lack of solidarity within the union but also with those in need. According to Slapakova, a spirit of unity could be fostered by greater investment in youth programmes, such as through an increase in cooperation with youth organisations and civil society organisations within the EU and beyond its borders.
Andrea Gabriela agreed with Slapakova and similarly appealed to the idea of addressing the young generation for seeking solutions. Greater involvement of the youth gives young people a meaning and could therefore carry the possibility of reuniting the Union for finding solutions in solidarity.
With a particular focus on remedying the roots of the problem of the refugee crises, Gabriela proposed to create safe zones with military help from the European Union instead refugee camps. Gabriela argued that having safe zones could enable refugees’ economic independence and allow them to become fully self-sustainable in the country of conflict.
The proposals were followed by an exchange of views on the joint report of the Committee of foreign affairs and the Development Committee on Migration entitled “Addressing Refugee and Migrant Movement: The Role of EU External Action”. The discussion did not pick up on the ideas presented in the European Youth Hearing but revolved around current drawbacks of already existing policies, the need for addressing root causes of migration and the necessity to combat human trafficking. The dispute once again highlighted important issues that the European Union is currently facing in its approach to dealing with the refugee crisis. However, it failed to provide constructive solutions.
While the candidates of the European Youth Hearings presented valuable ideas that could be seen as a good starting point for rethinking conventional approaches and to find alternative solutions for structuring the current asylum system, their impact on the current debate of the refugee crisis appeared to be rather negligible. Those proposals could clearly have been given more consideration in this debate. Unfortunately, the parliament neither seemed to be inspired by their ideas nor by their ambitious drive for progress and change with the result of finishing the event with the outcome of finding no agreement at all.
The full discussion of the participants of the European Youth Event on the topic of Migration and EU external action can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/european-youth-event/en/home/home.html