Migration is one of the most contentious issues facing Europe at the moment. How do we protect our borders? Are we building a “fortress Europe”? How can we ensure migration into the EU is orderly, fair, and humane? How much of a role should the European Union play, and how much should be up to national governments to respond individually?
What do our readers think? We had a comment from Bernard arguing that “basic common sense tells us” that Europe needs to do more to secure its external borders. Is he right? And, if he is, how exactly can Europe’s borders be “secured”?
How would you secure Europe’s borders? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
Asylum and refugee law should be harmonised at EU level so that it can be applied uniformly at the external borders. To this end, the previous enforceable individual right will be converted into an offer of assistance on a voluntary basis. This is the only way of coping with the current and expected future refugee and illegal migration flows and ensures that effective assistance can be provided. New arrivals should already be given a decision at the border as to whether they are allowed to enter or not. Each member state should retain the freedom to decide on the number of people to be admitted.
To achieve this, we obviously have to work together. My political group and I do not believe that Brussels bureaucrats should impose migration policies to the sovereign governments of the member states. Instead, Brussels should focus towards enabling cooperation through FRONTEX and the common defence of the external borders. It is a technical issue and not a political one. For any EU migration system to be sustainable, then it needs to have the full backing of all of its Member States and the people of Europe. The EU cannot continue to impose an immigration system that is backed by only a few of its Member States. A system of cooperation rather than compulsion must prevail.
Basically, I think the Schengen system is incorrectly designed. It was designed by Jacques Delors in the 1980s, and it was designed for the conditions of the Cold War. During the Cold War, it was possible to remove borders in Europe because there was just one enemy, which were Soviet spies coming to Munich. So, under such conditions the Schengen system was okay. But, today, we are living in a system where the enemy – the threat – is inside the European Union. And, under such conditions, the Schengen system is totally wrong.
I would design a system dividing Europe into regions, like Central Europe, Southern Europe, Scandinavia, etc. There, it’s possible to have something like a Schengen system, and such regions must protect their borders. Today, if Italians or Greece are protecting their borders from people who are coming abroad to reach Germany, it cannot work because the interests of Italy and Greece are totally different from Germany’s. So, it never will work.
On the other hand, the European Union is pushing Poland and Slovakia to protect the border with Ukraine absolutely, and there are electronic systems, and infrared systems, and whatever is possible – and basically nobody from Ukraine is crossing this border into the European Union. Why is the EU not insisting the same protection must be in Greece, and Italy, and Spain, and France? So, that’s a mistake of the European Union; it cannot work, it will never work.