MEPs approve ground-breaking Roberta Metsola report on migration

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MEPs approve ground-breaking Roberta Metsola report on migrationMEPs approve ground-breaking Roberta Metsola report on migration. The report calls for ' country of first entry' principle to no longer be applied; new approach to integration, security, greater impetus to solve root causes of migration

The European Parliament today overwhelmingly approved a report on an all-encompassing approach to migration, which was co-authored by MEP Roberta Metsola.

Significantly for Malta and other frontline Member States, the report calls for the "country of first entry" principle to no longer be applied.

Addressing the plenary session in Strasbourg this morning, Dr Metsola said that Europe needs to shift its thinking on migration: "No more emergency solutions to emergency situations. There is no quick fix to migration, there is no magical silver bullet."

Dr Metsola said the departing point of the report is that solidarity must be the principle upon which any action on migration is based.

"We draw differences between those in need of protection and those who come to Europe for work. Because we understand that while people fleeing war and persecution have a right to protection, it is true that this does not equate to an inalienable right to migration. So we highlight that when it comes to labour migration for example, it must be the Member States who have control over their labour markets and that they and the Union must see how best to fill any possible gaps in the market," Dr Metsola underlined.

Roberta Metsola added that, "of course not everyone in Europe is eligible for protection, and the return of those who are not eligible must be carried out. Only 36% of those who were ordered to leave the Union were actually returned in 2014, so there is a clear need to improve the effectiveness of this system."

On security, Dr Metsola commented, "we cannot bury our heads in the sand. Security fears do exist among our citizens and States must fulfil their obligations at the external borders if these fears are to be in any way allayed. The abolition of internal border controls in Schengen has to go hand in hand with strengthening external borders."

The report calls for a new approach to integration, with the European Parliament calling for a two-way process, and as Dr Metsola explained, "yes, everyone's rights must be protected and yes, we must do more to keep families together – it is also fair to expect people to respect the values upon which our Union is founded".

The Parliament also calls for Europe to help build capacity in third countries which can eventually allow people to seek protection also in safe countries outside the EU.

Highlighting the enormity of the situation, Dr Metsola said that "more than one million people crossed into Europe last year. 3,771 people drowned. We have a duty to take a stand, to ensure that these are not just nameless statistics. We cannot allow ourselves to become desensitised to the fact that migration is above all a human issue. These are real people, with real lives, and we must all do better."

The report was approved by 459 votes in favour, 206 against and 52 abstentions.

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