, by Allan Malheiro, Mélina Bouchet et Alexandre Annibal

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

European Union 2023 - Source : EP

On December 20, 2023, an agreement was reached among the 27 member states and the European Parliament regarding the challenging issue of immigrant reception. While Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez, the Spanish Minister of the Interior, hails it as a “promise fulfilled by the European Union,” this view is not shared by NGOs and European youth.

A humanitarian emergency

The migration crisis is just beginning, but the numbers are already alarming. In 2023 alone, 2499 lives were lost in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2014, a staggering 28,248 individuals have disappeared there, as reported by the NGO SOS Méditerranée. Various organizations are tirelessly working to rescue those at risk during this perilous journey. According to SOS Méditerranée, the Aquarius, the organization’s dedicated intervention boat, has saved no fewer than 29,523 people since 2014. However, we have the obligation to ask ourselves : what happens to these people once they have been saved?

This emergency is serious: immigrants come to Europe having leave behind them everything in order to improve their living conditions. The European Union must be fulfill this expectation. Indeed, despite the fact they are welcome to stay, the conditions which are imposed on them do not allow them to live in dignity.

Young people get involved

Part of the European youth, shocked by the unacceptable conditions faced by asylum seekers, is spearheading a project through the European Citizens’ Initiative. This tool compels the European Commission, the executive body of the European institutional system, to scrutinize the initiative for the creation of new legislation. The initiative is championed by the students of Rosa Parks Secondary School in Rennes (35), asserting that the European Union must actively champion the rights of asylum seekers. According to them, asylum is international protection guaranteed by a state on its territory and can be requested by an individual fearing persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion (source: touteleurope.eu).

It is necessary to be aware that the goal of the European Union is to provide maximum support to the member States, labeling them as “victims of the migration crisis”. The watchword of this agreement is solidarity. But the solidarity between whom: the 27 countries towards the immigrants or between the 27 countries themselves ? This solidarity between all the member States is essential, but this agreement does not go further.

NGOs were quick to react

According to the proposed agreement, accelerated procedures will be implemented at the European Union’s borders to swiftly expel individuals with “manifestly unfounded or irreceivable” cases. Amnesty International criticizes these measures, deeming them “a regression in European asylum legislation for the decades to come, contributing to increased human suffering.” According to the NGO, as Europe increasingly fortifies itself against immigrants influenced by right-wing governments in the EU, those awaiting asylum may be kept beyond the borders without entering member states’ territories. Amnesty International warns that “protections for people seeking asylum within the EU will be diminished, with more individuals subjected to second-rate border asylum procedures instead of receiving a fair and comprehensive assessment of their asylum claims.” NGOs express concern that families could be confined in “retention” camps, where they may face challenges in defending themselves against the administrative handling of their cases.

The first consequences of this situation are the lack of human dignity in the proposal of the EU. Indeed, no information was provided regarding the measures for welcoming the immigrants. That is one of the notable demands of the petition of the students of Rosa Parks: guarantee asylum seekers worthy and comparable living conditions everywhere in Europe, principally in terms of education and health. The petition can be accessed on the following website: dignity-in-europe.com

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