To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts currently being made at EU level to address the migration and refugee crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017.
Ref No: 25616/17 Lottery: 55 Proof: 96
The migration crisis has been one of the greatest challenges facing the EU for the past two years. Migration has featured on the agenda of almost every European Councils in the same period and will be on the agenda of next month’s European Council too. It has also featured prominently on the Foreign Affairs and Justice and Home Affairs’ Council agendas.
The EU has responded to the crisis by adopting a range of measures to deal with this mass movement of people. These have included engaging with countries of origin and transit to address the root causes of migration including through bespoke Migration Compacts; agreeing a plan to relocate migrants from Italy and Greece across the Union; the launching of Operation Sophia to disrupt people smuggling in the Mediterranean; and substantial financial assistance to countries hosting large numbers of migrants. EU Heads of State and Government concluded a landmark migration deal with Turkey in March 2016, which has resulted in a very substantial reduction in the number of migrants risking their lives at sea to enter the EU from Turkey.
In the past year the focus has shifted from Turkey to the so-called Central Mediterranean Route, with some 181,000 migrants crossing from Libya to Italy in 2016. In March 2017, EU leaders issued the Malta Declaration, which sets out the EU’s commitment to assist Libya, with a strong focus on capacity building. This includes training, equipment and support for the Libyan national coast guard and other relevant agencies, as well as seeking to ensure adequate reception capacities and conditions in Libya for migrants, including through working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration.
The migration crisis is being driven variously by war, political instability, corruption, economic deprivation and human rights abuses. These need to be addressed in a holistic and strategic way incorporating immediate and long-term measures, both of which are part of the EU’s ongoing migration strategy.