President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani told the European Council yesterday there was an urgent need to reach a consensus on asylum system reform.
The president told leaders of the 28 Member States: “The stalemate on asylum system reform is a gift to populists and Europhobes. We must not be held hostage by consensus at all costs: we must vote by majority, as outlined in the treaties.”
Acknowledging the risk of propaganda and misinformation disseminated by anti-EU crusaders, Tajani warned his audience that “migration peril” was greatly overestimated by many EU citizens and that people’s fear was open to exploitation by the far right. He cautioned attendees of the risks posed by inaccurate and poorly reported news to the European elections in May.
Agreements between EU states and coordinated asylum system reform have led to a quantifiable drop of up to 95 per cent in “irregular” migration into Member States. Tajani called for more and better formed accords between countries on migration, urging members to share the burden of accepting asylum seekers and provide each other with financial and administrative support where necessary.
Where Member States did not want to accept asylum seekers, he said, they must offer alternatives, whether by providing support to other Member States or addressing the problem at the root and improving conditions in the African nations which produce the highest numbers of asylum seekers.
In a heartfelt call for unity from Member States, Tajani denounced discord within the EU as counterproductive to international relations and called for Europe-wide asylum system reform, saying: “It is time for the EU to start speaking with one voice.”
The president encouraged leaders to show political will and creativity in working together to enact widespread asylum system reform and said: “Solidarity does not only mean shouldering responsibility for part of the problem but also, and above all, understanding others’ needs and seeking, sincerely and constructively, to solve the problem. Together.”