Without any doubt, migration is one of the most crucial European problems, that challenges not only countries of the European South but the European Union as an entity. However, the countries that form the southern borders of Europe, especially Greece and Italy, are the ones most affected by migration flows, making the integration of immigrants nearly impossible.
Over the years, irregular migration has become uncontrollable. According to recent statistics, the arrival of undocumented migrants at the Aegean Greek islands (Chios, Lesvos, Dodekanisa) rose dramatically to 10 445, an astounding figure, especially when compared to the equivalent period in 2014, when this number was 2863. Furthermore, it is estimated that in 2015 the number of undocumented migrants entering Greece will reach more than half a million, justifying once again the saying that Greece is the ‘gateway of Europe for irregular migration’.
Additional financial aid needed to manage irregular migration
Important progress has been made by the European Union in managing this challenge, especially through FRONTEX and EASO. In many cases, the latter have managed to reduce, but not stop entirely, the waves of migrants that arrive in Europe without travel papers. However, FRONTEX should be financially strengthened as well as empowered by additional human resources, so it can more efficiently survey vulnerable European borders.
Additional help from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) is needed to support those Member-State asylum systems under pressure. It is essential also to apply the ‘Smart Borders’ programme, inter alia, for the most effective management of the Schengen area, as this will enhance the control of European borders.
There is a substantial need for more radical action. The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has constantly underlined that the solution to irregular migration lies in regular migration.
Moreover, extra financial aid must be provided for handling this problem, especially to those Member States that urgently need it. Considering the importance of this problem, I recently submitted a written question to the European Commission regarding the approval of an extra fund to support Greece, as it is the only Member State which is under an economic adjustment programme but at the same time faces huge challenges in the field of migration. These funds, originally to be provided in June, should be made available earlier.
ALL Member States should contribute To Facing THE Challenge
Unfortunately, the reaction of the new Greek government to this crucial issue is inadequate, leading to an unstable situation. Indeed, the inefficient management of migration by the new government provokes even more complex and numerous problems in addition to the already existing ones, favouring a greater influx of immigrants.
I belong to those who believe that a common European strategy, like the one already drawn up by the European Commission and supported by the EPP Group, must be implemented and that all Member States should contribute within their capacity, so as to improve reception conditions for migrants in quality and quantity through the European Union's budget.
The EU needs to step up security at its external borders by making use of new technologies and by strengthening cooperation with third countries, so that the rise in human trafficking, smuggling and deaths in the Mediterranean can be drastically reduced, if not eliminated. We need an open Europe with controlled borders and not an inaccessible one.