The EPP Foreign Ministers met today in the margins of the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Luxembourg. The President of the EPP, Joseph Daul, and the Co-ChairsSebastian Kurz, Austrian Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and Elmar Brok, Chairman of the AFET Committee in the European Parliament, made the following statement on migration:

The flow of refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa, seeking asylum in EU Member States has reached an unprecedented scale bringing us to the brink of our ability to receive and absorb more people.

Only a concerted and comprehensive European action, comprising measures aiming at countries of origin, transit and destination, can move us forward.

We have to jointly:

  • Tackle the root causes of massive migration flows. Sustainable solutions have to be found to conflicts in our neighbourhood. Especially Islamist terrorism such as ISIS/Da’esh, which is terrorising large parts of the Middle East and Africa, has to be fought with determination. The EU should initiate concerted diplomatic efforts, together with the US and other international partners, to convince other countries in the region such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, of the need for a common strategy towards this global challenge.
  • Offer safety and humanitarian assistance as close as possible to the places of origin by creating safe zones and initial reception centres in third countries where the asylum procedure can already be initiated. This will create a legal way for persons in need to enter Europe and limit their risk of falling into the hands of inhumane people smugglers. European financial aid should also be increased to support local efforts.
  • Encourage the European Commission and Member States to quickly implement “hotspot” facilities in frontline Member States and, based on further negotiations, possibly in the Western Balkans countries, where migrants will be swiftly identified and registered upon arrival before proceeding with an assessment of their status. The EU and Member States should support this common effort with staff and technical assistance.
  • Reinforce the external borders of the EU by stepping up border control both on sea and land in the Southern Mediterranean, the Aegean Sea and along the so called “Balkan route”. We remain committed to open borders within the Schengen area, but as a consequence, EU external borders must be secured in a more effective way.
  • The fight against migrant smugglers and their organised criminal networks needs the utmost attention; rapid action as well as a long-term comprehensive and concrete action plan in close cooperation with third countries, by targeting priority countries and routes, are key.
  • Further enhance police cooperation and support for local authorities along the smuggling routes in the Western Balkans.
  • Find an effective, fair and sustainable mechanism within the EU for burden sharing with regard to asylum-seekers and refugees in Europe.
  • Ensure that the right to seek asylum is respected for those in need of protection, while especially swift and effective return, readmission and reintegration policies for those who do not qualify for protection are put in place.
  • Reinforce our cooperation with countries of origin and transit regarding irregular migrants, human trafficking and return procedures, including through EU development aid.
  • Develop a new approach towards Africa, comprising better opportunities for trade and development, but also through pressure on countries such as Eritrea.
  • An agreement on a joint European list of safe countries of origin and transit will relieve asylum systems and discourage further economic migrants. This is an important prerequisite to focus our asylum and reception capacities on those truly in need of protection.

Only a comprehensive, integrated policy approach will be successful. We support the approach of the European Commission to initiate, along the lines on the Conclusions of the 25-26 June European Council meeting, comprehensive legislation tackling the issues at hand. We call on all governments, the European institutions, the UN, NATO as well as the countries of the Arab League to join efforts to restrict the unparalleled flow of persons into Europe.

Upholding our international commitments and values while securing our borders and at the same time creating the right conditions for Europe’s economic prosperity and social cohesion must be our common goal.