Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

EC says migration crisis is over – but problems remain

2 April 20190 comments

Europe’s migration crisis is over according to the European Commission which has taken aim at what it calls “fake news” and “misinformation” around the issue.

EC vice-president Frans Timmermans said this week that Europe was no longer experiencing the migration crisis it lived through in 2015, but he admitted that “structural problems” remained.

In 2018, 116,647 people were counted by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, as crossing the Mediterranean, an 89 per cent reduction on those who made the journey in 2015, at the height of the crisis.

While the trend is not new, the commission’s latest progress report points to a tougher public relations stance with the document hitting out against “myths” and “untruths”.

The robust language follows feisty exchanges between Brussels and the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, who has turned migration into an electoral issue.

The Hungarian government last month launched a poster campaign, based on misleading claims about migration, featuring the European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and the Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros.

Using unusually combative language, the commission issued a factsheet debunking 15 “myths” about migration.

At the top of its list is that Europe is “no longer in crisis mode” over migration, while it also attacked demagogic stereotypes that migrants carry disease or burden economies.

The report acknowledged there were unresolved problems in Greece with 4,000 people still living in an overflowing camp on the island of Samos.

With Spain now the main entry point for people crossing the Mediterranean into the EU, the commission said one of its priorities was working with Morocco via a €140 million ($A220m) border control program.

So far, North African coastal states have rejected the EU’s attempts to be part of policies that would give them greater responsibility to process asylum claims of people rescued at sea.

The decline in migrant arrivals comes amid bickering inside the EU on a package of laws to overhaul the European asylum system.

While some uniform laws have been agreed, the EU remains at impasse over a proposal to redistribute refugees around the bloc.

Southern countries, which have borne the brunt of Mediterranean arrivals, oppose any attempt to water down obligations on other member states to help.

Central and eastern European counties are meanwhile determined not to take refugees under a quota system.

EU members have also been unable to agree a regulation to harmonise asylum procedures across the bloc.


Laurie Nowell 
AMES Australia Senior Journalist