In 2019, more than 304 million people entered the European Union. Of this total, and according to Frontex data, only 141,000 were irregular entries, approximately 0.0005% of the total entries.
"The management of the EU external borders is exceptionally successful," said Elspeth Guild, professor of European law, European justice and internal affairs at Queen Mary University in London. Guild participated in the cycle "What Europe do we want?", organized by the Catalunya Europa Foundation with the co-financing of the European Parliament in an event dedicated to the European Pact on Migration and Asylum.
Guild wondered if, with these numbers, we can talk about a crisis in the management of external borders. Judging by some decisions in Brussels, such as the substantial increase in the budget dedicated to Frontex, we are facing a crisis of considerable dimensions, despite the fact that the statistics indicate the opposite.
The European law professor denounced that a UN report had collected cases of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment of migrants who tried to enter the European Union, as well as the involvement of Frontex in the expulsion of these people to Libya or Turkey. The head of migration at Instrategies, Gemma Pinyol, added that there is enormous impunity at the borders. "There is not only a complaint problem, since many of the cases are well documented, but these crimes are not prosecuted," said Pinyol.
Will the new European Migration and Asylum Pact solve some of these challenges? According to the Elspeth Guild, the main objective of the pact is to review the common European asylum system, although it presents relevant problems. For example, it does not allow appeal and solidarity between Member States is based on the payment of refugee return fees by those who are not in the front line of reception. In addition, there is a not very substantial revision of the Dublin Regulation.
In the same sense, Anna Terrón, director of FIIAPP, stated that this pact does not respond to a common migration policy, only to a return policy. Therefore, the focus is on expulsion, which conditions the relationship with third countries. In addition, Terrón denounces, this system can cause conflicts between those countries with a robust asylum system and others with less tradition, but that are close to the border. There is, therefore, no system that is truly more supportive of the countries that receive a greater number of migrants.
On her side, Montserrat Feixas, UNHCR director in Central Europe, denounced the slowness of the procedures to request asylum and the lack of solidarity from the States. Feixas was betting on a more flexible system, which allows other options beyond asylum. "Often people come who have needs for protection, but maybe they don't need asylum." For Feixas, the new European Migration and Asylum Pact is a step forward because it places emphasis on improving the management of procedures and increases the budget for local integration. Still, Feixas believes that the solution is to treat migration and asylum as a global issue. "The EU must give more aid to countries that are hosting large waves of refugees, and this aid should not be linked to the returns of these people," defended Feixas.
The person in charge of migration from Sant'Egidio also took part in the event, highlighting reception initiatives promoted by civil society. Specifically, she has put on the table a capillary reception system, promoted by Sant'Egidio, in which families or entities take charge of the reception, which facilitates the integration of these people in the country of arrival.
The cycle "What Europe do we want?" it is co-financed by the European Parliament. This conference has had the collaboration of the ACSAR Foundation.