In 2021, the Belarusian regime led by Alyaksandr Lukashenka actively attracted migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other countries, encouraging and even forcing them to cross the UE borders. This resulted in a particular pressure on Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and was done in retaliation against the sanctions adopted by the EU in response to the regime rigging the national elections in 2020 and violently repressing civil society in 2021.
The role of Turkey in the refugee crisis (own-initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
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In this opinion, the EESC stresses that the EU needs to strike the right balance between effective and realistic migration management that is humane and sustainable, while ensuring security and control of its external borders. It must send a clear message that migration can be better managed collectively. It notes that the proposals accompanying the PMA are important but insufficient for the development of the common European framework for migration management, which would be both effective and in line with the EU's values and objectives.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to speed up returns, but regrets that the recast was not supported by an impact assessment and/or public consultation on the existing Directive 2008/115/EC.
The EESC believes that an effective returns policy should be part of a truly common policy and legislation for legal migration and for asylum, which is currently missing, giving the impression that the EU adopts a purely security and policing-focused vision of migration as a criminal matter. Such a comprehensive common EU migration policy would also be the best answer to the extreme right-wing and nationalist discourse on migration.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's efforts to making the return procedure quicker and more efficient. Even so, consideration should be given to how realistic the proposed time-scales are and an assessment made of the obstacles that could frustrate this intention.
The EESC supports the proposal to provide the Agency with its own permanent operational arm made up of 10 000 staff, while it recommends that cooperation between the Agency and the national administrations be defined and organised at European level in a clear and transparent manner.
Given the role which would be played by the Agency in the event of detention of individuals and their potential return to their countries of origin, the Committee recommends that statutory staff are given training modules on respect for fundamental rights.
The Committee calls for the EESC to be part of the Consultative Forum.
Delivering on the European Agenda on Migration from May, the European Commission has put forward a comprehensive package of proposals which should help address the refugee crisis by alleviating pressure from the most affected Member States. One of the measures announced was a Permanent Relocation Mechanism for all Member States.
The refugee crisis in the EU has reached the point at which the founding principles of human rights protection and democracy are being called into question. Despite the difficulties, EESC strongly believes that these principles must be upheld and properly implemented. The crisis relocation mechanism is a concrete example of cooperation based on solidarity and responsibility. However, the EESC wishes to have this relocation mechanism and other similar initiatives included as part of a general strategy in order to ensure coherence and efficiency.
On 13 May, the European Commission presented a European Agenda on Migration outlining the immediate measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years to better manage migration in all its aspects. The EESC welcomes the Commission's "European Agenda on Migration", which it believes symbolises a new-found understanding of the need to address migration at a European level, and encourages the Member States to collectively support the implementation of this Agenda.
The aim of the opinion is to call on the representatives of the European Community institutions and national government to take account of the key role of the social partners and organised civil society in providing European immigration policies with a social dimension and added value.
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