PositionMember of the European Parliament

Meeting in Brussels on 19 March, elected officials with responsibility for migration called for more legal avenues at the Union's gates

"Nothing taking place in the world today is really very far from our doorstep, including Syria, Mali and the Central African Republic." Most MEPs and national MPs concurred with this observation by Eugenio Ambrosi, adviser for Europe at the International Organisation for Migration (IMO). They also agreed with his appeal to the EU to implement a migration policy "based on facts" and "not on feelings".

With the European elections two months away and Eurosceptics ready to exploit the issue of immigration, MEPs met their counterparts from national parliaments to try to shape the future judicial, police and migration priorities of the post-2014 Union. These have to be adopted in spring and then validated at the late June EU summit.

In the heated context of migration crises and the thousands of deaths as potential migrants attempt to cross the Mediterranean, the officials agree on the urgent need to work out political solutions.

Predictably, some were annoyed by discourse in support of legal migration. "There is 26% unemployment in my country and I don't see how migration can contribute to growth," said a Greek MP, rejecting an overly permissive policy by the left. Ambrosi had just pointed out the positive connection established by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) between growth and immigration and the need for manpower that will exist in the EU in 30 to 40 years due to ageing of the population.

In the end, Andrew Henry William Brons (UK), a non-attached MEP, was the only outspoken opponent of immigration, urging the EU to reject all asylum requests from illegal migrants.

According to figures mentioned by Conservative Portuguese MEP Carlos Coelho, 10,000 persons were detected in the Mediterranean in 2010, 70,000 in 2011 and 20,000 in 2012. Most went through human trafficking networks and around one fourth died. "We need changes to existing legislation, for greater clarity. We have to remove barriers to legal migration and help the countries concerned by migration flows," said the EPP group member. He added that the Union does not...

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