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S&Ds reject an external migration policy based solely on numbers


15 Mar 2021


Justice & Home Affairs

Ahead of the joint Council meeting of Foreign Affairs and Home affairs Ministers today (15 March), the S&D Group urges the Council to look beyond the numbers when it comes to irregular migration and consider our humanitarian responsibilities in any partnerships with third countries.  

The S&D Group is in favour of partnerships with third countries as part of the EU’s external migration policy, being discussed by Ministers this afternoon. However, S&D MEPs believe it is wrong to push for informal deals that make cooperation with third countries conditional solely on the basis of controlling the number of irregular migrants. The S&D Group wants to see agreements that are sustainable in the long-term and that fully respect international and humanitarian law.

Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson on home affairs, said:

“We need partnerships with third countries, but we cannot negotiate a patchwork of one-sided, unfair and informal deals with third countries and call it an effective EU migration policy. Any informal arrangements risk undermining our commitment to protecting fundamental rights, while also lacking judicial scrutiny and democratic oversight. With this approach on migration policy, we are burying our heads in the sand.

“The right to asylum is an international law that should never be under threat. Yet this is exactly what would happen as a direct result of deals made by the EU with third countries that are conditional on reducing the number of migrants on the way to the EU, either through or from these third countries. The time and energy that goes into Council discussions on returns and readmission would be much better spent on fulfilling and expanding resettlement pledges and creating new legal avenues for labour, study and business.”

Isabel Santos, S&D spokesperson on human rights, said:

“Whether it is in the field of development aid, trade, visas, security cooperation or investment, making the EU’s relations with third countries conditional on migration numbers is unacceptable. As Socialists and Democrats, we question any attempt to pursue a migration policy that puts pressure on third countries to work with the EU on the basis of a narrowly defined set of objectives that focuses too heavily on controlling migration and bringing the numbers down, and focuses too little on the protection of human rights and the respect of international and humanitarian law.

“Cooperation with third countries must be guided by the principles of equal partnership. Yet, the discussions between ministers on facilitating the return and readmission of migrants through so-called ‘mutually beneficial partnerships’ would undermine that equal footing, and risks creating tensions and conditions for serious violations of human rights. If we focus on a strict migratory dimension in these partnerships, we will lose all sight of important objectives like peace and stability, social upward mobility and development goals such as the eradication of poverty and illiteracy.”