At its July plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a debate with Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, who presented a number of upcoming initiatives falling under his portfolio of "Promoting our European Way of Life", including the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Skills Agenda, the EU for Health Programme and the new Security Union Strategy.
Migration policy dominated the debate.
"We are awaiting the New Pact on Migration and Asylum with great hope but also concern. I hope that it will lead to substantial reform of the Dublin system, which has been a black hole in EU policy for all too long," the EESC president Luca Jahier told Commissioner Schinas.
Mr Jahier said it was in the field of migration and integration that the values of solidarity, equality and fairness, or the lack of them, were especially visible. He deplored the situation where Member States in Southern Europe have to carry a disproportionate burden while some countries opt out of their obligations.
The New Pact on Migration and Asylum, announced as the number one priority for the Von der Leyen Commission, had to be delayed due to the pandemic. It has now been postponed until after the negotiations on the strengthened EU long-term budget.
Commissioner Schinas said the New Pact would provide a holistic solution, which would among other things combine robust management of external borders and shared management of asylum applications, splitting the burden equally among all Member States.
In the exchange of views with the commissioner, EESC members pointed to the importance of full social and economic inclusion of migrants and to the need to emphasise their contribution to our societies and economies. (ll/ks)