On 13th May 2015, the European Commission announced a European Agenda on Migration in response to recent tragedies in the Mediterranean. The Agenda outlines immediate steps which the EU will take in order to prevent further migrant deaths, as well as long-term strategies designed to improve the EU’s migration system. The recent crisis has highlighted the fact that certain EU Member States are taking far more migrants than others. The responsibility of caring for those who risk their lives to come to the EU is not being adequately shared by States. In announcing the new Agenda, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans highlighted the need to balance EU citizens’ worries about human suffering with their concerns about unregulated immigration.
The immediate steps to be taken include increasing the capacity and budget of the Frontex joint operation, which is the agency responsible for maintaining the EU’s external borders. The Agenda also allows for the first activisation of an emergency mechanism contained in Article 78(3) TFEU. The mechanism entails the temporary distribution of persons in need of international protection within the EU. Ireland has decided to opt-in to this proposal and take 272 people per 200,000 migrants. Germany will take the highest number of migrants, with France, Italy and Spain also taking significant numbers. Immediate action will also include a further EU-wide resettlement scheme for migrants and a potential programme in conjunction with the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) aimed at eradicating the smuggling and trafficking of people in the Mediterranean.
The Agenda also outlines four pillars designed to improve the efficacy of the EU’s migration system more broadly. These include reducing the incentives for irregular migration, managing borders more effectively, enhancing the Common European Asylum System, and the introduction of new policies on legal migration.
In discussing the importance of the new Agenda, Timmermans stated: “We can’t accept a situation where whole families are drowning in the Mediterranean. We have to try and save those people”
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