European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has presented three ambitious migration and border security proposals in his State of the Union 2018 address.
The EU’s approach to migration, particularly during the large-scale irregular migration crisis that began in 2015, has been widely criticised for the lack of a comprehensive and united approach by the European Commission. The new migration and border security proposals seeks to address these criticisms and ensure that the EU is better prepared to face developing challenges.
The new rules will offer broader remits and additional personnel to the European Border and Coast Guard, and the EU Agency for Asylum, which will ensure that Member States can rely on a co-ordinated and effective response from EU-level authorities. In addition, reforms to the processes of return and legal migration will be introduced.
What do the new proposals include?
The European Border and Coast Guard will recruit a standing corps of 10,000 operational staff by 2020, to facilitate more support for migrants on return and deliver stronger co-operation with non-EU countries, which is particularly vital at the European Union’s external borders. The Asylum Agency, meanwhile, would receive an increased budget of €321m for the period 2019-2020, and €1.25bn for the period 2021-2027.
Another vital component will be reforms to the legal pathways for migrants to settle in Europe; this will include the resettlement of 50,000 persons in need of international protection, and a new EU Blue Card scheme, which aims to attract highly skilled workers to Europe in order to bolster competitiveness in the EU economy.
How would the new proposals address the challenges of irregular migration?
According to Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, the EU’s new proposals will support the efforts of Member States to face their challenges: “The [proposals] will ensure EU solidarity is effectively delivered on the ground – whenever and wherever needed. We are providing Member States with the necessary tools to agree on the overall reform of the EU’s asylum system and strike the right balance between solidarity and responsibility. It is now high time they deliver on this commitment.”
For Juncker, unity between Member States in their approach will facilitate faster responses to emerging challenges. In his State of the Union address, he said: “We cannot continue to squabble to find ad-hoc solutions each time a new ship arrives. Temporary solidarity is not good enough. We need lasting solidarity – today and forever more.”