At the meeting of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) with the First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, it was found that for tackling the migrant crisis and the security risks that accompany it, the controlling of the external borders of the European Union has to be strengthened as soon as possible, information exchange between the countries must be improved and a large-scale investment programme for supporting the countries of origin should be established.
Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling said that in order to solve the migrant crisis, the whole Mediterranean region together with North Africa had to be treated as one. “The easiest escape route is now closed, thanks to the refugee-return agreement with Turkey,” Palling said. “If we do not want the number of refugees to start increasing again, it is necessary to pay attention to the whole region and close all migration routes.”
In Palling’s opinion, the best possible solution for that region is creating a programme of investments. “The difference between the standards of living in two neighbouring regions is too great,” Palling said. “If we do not help raise the standard of living in that region and only close the escape routes, we do not reduce the underlying reasons for migration.”
Palling noted that if the European Commission had created a 300 billion investment programme for increasing competitiveness in the European Union, then it should be possible to create such an investment programme also for countries outside the EU that suffer the most due to migration pressure. He added that it was necessary to create jobs in those countries and to enable access to education and medical care. All this should be done so that people did not have to undertake a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe.
“We think that as the next step, it would be reasonable for the European Union to support Lebanon and Jordan, who are ready to take care of the refugees, to give them medical help if there are financial possibilities for that, give education to children and to include them in the labour market,” Palling said.
“In the EU, we have to find a consensus for supporting them and also other countries of that region because it is primarily an investment also in our future and security,” Palling said. “Why not take a part of the production that is losing competitiveness from Europe to the other shore of the Mediterranean, it would solve several problems at the same time.”
Palling thinks that the most important is giving the underage refugees access to education. “If we do not contribute to educating those young people, then we lose a whole generation, and Daesh will deal with their education,” Palling remarked.
Registration of refugees at the external border of the EU was discussed as the second important issue. Palling proposed to give an e-identity to every person who had crossed the border. In his opinion, registration should take place already at the refugee camps.
Forthcoming referendum in Great Britain on remaining in the EU, European values and the risks caused by the triumph of populism in Europe were also spoken about at the meeting. Besides that, it was discussed how Estonia’s became a digital country, and what were the next steps in creating a legislative framework for sharing economy. Palling emphasised that we are always ready to share the experience gained from that with other countries.
Deputy Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Jaak Madison and members of the Riigikogu Maris Lauri, Tanel Talve, Peeter Ernits, Jüri Jaanson and Mart Nutt also took part in the meeting.
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