06. Dezember 2013 · Kommentare deaktiviert für EU Botschaftsasyl und EU Frontex Patrouillen · Kategorien: Europa, Nicht zugeordnet · Tags:

EU Proposes Allowing Migrants to Seek Asylum from Abroad

Commission Also Seeks EUR14 million for Increased Patrols in Mediterranean

Matina Stevis

European officials on Wednesday proposed allowing people to apply for asylum in Europe from abroad, part of a package of measures intended to discourage dangerous, illegal journeys like the one that cost the lives of hundreds of immigrants off the coast of Italy in October.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, also suggested beefing up patrols in the Mediterranean, from Cyprus to Spain, under the mantle of Frontex, the EU’s border agency.

The proposals are an effort by the Commission to unify the bloc’s response to migration-from border management to the acceptance of refugees-and to minimize the number of migrants drowning at sea.

It comes after more than 360 Africans drowned off the coast of the island of Lampedusa on Oct. 3, in one of the worst disasters in the Mediterranean in recent history.

While EU leaders in October had asked the Commission to keep the recommendations within existing budgets, the executive said its plan would cost EUR14 million ($19 million) a year to put in place. It also suggested giving Europol, the EU law-enforcement agency, an extra EUR400,000 a year to beef up existing investigations into migrant-smuggling networks.

EU leaders will take up the proposals at their summit in Brussels later this month. Elizabeth Collett, the director at the Brussels-based Migration Policy Institute Europe, said they were likely to be approved, as all EU member states were involved in drafting the plan.

Under the proposal, Frontex would draw on existing member-state vessels to help patrol a sea area stretching from Cyprus, which is close to Lebanon and Syria, to Spain, which is close to West Africa.

The increased patrols should prevent deaths at sea and improve the EU’s record in arresting migrant-smugglers, as well as other criminal networks that smuggle goods into the bloc from Africa, the proposal says.

The commission said it was „ready to explore possibilities for protected entries into the EU,“ or allowing refugees to go through the asylum-application process from abroad.

This option, if implemented, could help thousands of people who would otherwise have to pay smugglers – and risk their lives on the journey – to seek asylum in advance in northern European countries that have a good track record of accepting such refugees.

The commission proposal said this measure would be „refined in the coming months.“

It also offered to provide administrative staff to help member states dealing with high numbers of refugees to process their asylum applications.

Critics, however, say the proposals reinforce the idea of „Fortress Europe,“ meant to keep migrants out.

Ska Keller, a German member of the European Parliament from the European Green Party, said in an interview that using military assets and Frontex in the Mediterranean was so the EU could „close off the borders.“

During similar attempts in the past „we saw that migrants had to take longer or more dangerous routes, or risk worse weather,“ but didn’t give up trying to get to the EU, she said.

Ms. Keller said migrants should be allowed to legally travel to EU member states under a normal visa, where they can get immediate protection and legal assistance in the process of applying for asylum, rather than risk retaliation by making the application at home.

The Commission proposal also includes of EUR6,000 per refugee to member states that agree to help airlift and resettle people out of conflict zones. Only a few EU member states currently participate in the United Nations refugee-resettlement program for Syria.

The EU executive also called for fresh efforts to co-manage migration with the countries of origin or transit countries, especially in North Africa.

The bloc already has such deals in place with Tunisia and will be signing one with Morocco on Thursday. But Libya, seen by experts as the key to illegal migration via the Mediterranean, will be much harder to engage with because of the political turmoil there, Ms. Collett said in an interview.

In the nine months to end-September, 35,000 migrants-mostly Eritreans, Somalis and Syrians-reached Europe from Libya. This was also the route taken by the 367 who drowned in Lampedusa in October.


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