Q. – The problem of refugees, coming from Libya among other places, continues to worry Europe. The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, wants to impose on the Community’s 28 countries national quotas for taking in the refugees arriving on our coasts, particularly to relieve Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Greece, which are accepting many more than they should. What will your answer to Jean-Claude Juncker be?
THE MINISTER – These proposals by Jean-Claude Juncker are inspired by some of the proposals made by France. Last summer, in August, I began a tour of European capitals to ensure we had a common policy in the face of the migration risks resulting, among other things, from the destabilization of a number of countries, particularly Libya.
I think it’s right for there to be a distribution of the number of asylum seekers among the different European Union countries, and it’s right for Europe to have an asylum policy, and if we want to be effective in the face of the phenomenon we’re confronted with, we must take measures together that are coherent and strong. What are those measures? Firstly, ensuring we can save lives: we’re confronted with a terrible phenomenon at humanitarian level. Strengthening Frontex, tripling its resources, should enable us to achieve that goal, and at the same time Frontex will continue to be an operation to control the European Union’s external borders.
Secondly, we must work with the countries of origin – that’s crucial: in other words, we must be able, from the countries of origin, to distinguish people seeking illegal economic immigration from people eligible for asylum, and organize those people’s asylum ourselves. That’s the purpose of the visit I’m paying to Niger the day after tomorrow, to begin dialogue to this effect with the country’s authorities. And we must also share the number of asylum seekers between the different European Union countries, and in France we must reform our asylum policy: that’s the purpose of the bill the government has presented to Parliament, which will be debated in the Senate this afternoon. Shorter timeframes, more places in reception centres and better-recognized rights, but failed asylum claimants taken back to the border, more firmly and more clearly.
Q. – Do we have the means to take them back?
THE MINISTER – In the immigration bill, which follows the asylum bill, which will be presented to Parliament in July, there’s a package of measures, particularly house arrest, which should enable us to be much more effective when it comes to taking them back to the border. I must also say that in this respect, we’ve been taking 13% more failed asylum claimants back to the border since 2012. (…)./.