Official speeches and statements - July 6, 2018
1. Migration policy - European refugee agency - Reply by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate (Paris - June 26, 2018)
We can’t hide from the fact that Europe is at a crossroads. Everything that has been patiently and laboriously built over decades can be undone in a few months or a few years. Brexit shows the disintegration can sometimes be very fast.
The European Union is currently having its solidity and sovereignty tested, in relation to both its trade and its migration policy. So we must provide responses collectively, based on simple principles, namely responsibility and solidarity.
A package of measures must be taken. First of all, cooperation with countries of origin and transit should be improved. From this point of view, France has made strong commitments under the President’s leadership, because it’s about increasing our official development assistance, which should reach 0.55% of our gross national income. The Prime Minister also talked about the Alliance for the Sahel this very morning with his Malian counterpart.
We must then prevent some asylum seekers who have a legitimate right of asylum from having to make that deadly crossing. That’s the very purpose of the OFPRA [French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons] missions deployed in a number of countries, particularly Libya, Chad and Niger. They identify people who have inalienable rights in this area.
Moreover, it’s necessary to strengthen the European Union’s capabilities for protecting the external borders. Frontex’s staffing must therefore be increased from 1,200 to 10,000 people.
So there’s a wide range of solutions. The creation of a European asylum agency, which you’ve just mentioned, is an idea strongly supported by France and Germany. It will be the focus of discussions to be held in the coming days.
Gérard Collomb, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of the Interior, welcomes the arrival from Valletta (Malta) this morning of 52 refugees off the boat Lifeline. These people, who were rescued in the Mediterranean, were identified on their arrival in Malta by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) as requiring asylum protection. The French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII) will find them accommodation and they will be given language training and taught the Republic’s values as part of the Republican Integration Contract.
This operation, like the one France carried out in Valencia (Spain) for the people who came off the Aquarius, “shows France’s very concrete solidarity with its European neighbors on the front line in terms of arrivals by sea", according to Gérard Collomb, who emphasizes that “France was one of the first European countries to commit itself to taking this group of people in". This solidarity is part of an active policy to deter people from departing by sea, which is highly dangerous, and recall the need for everyone’s international duties to be to fulfilled, particularly when it comes to sea rescue.
Taking in these people from Malta is wholly in line with the conclusions of the European Council of 29 June 2018, which called for a solidarity mechanism to be established to manage disembarkations in Europe of migrants picked up at sea. Gérard Collomb reaffirms the determination to tackle all migration challenges in a joint, concerted European framework.
Gérard Collomb is keen to thank all the Interior Ministry, OFPRA and OFII staff for their involvement in this operation.