Martin Schulz, candidate for the European Socialist Party (S&D) for the Presidency of the European Commission, has agreed to answer our questions regarding the future priorities facing the EU on migration policies.
[President of the European Parliament, Parliament’s Bureau and Conference of Presidents; Chair of Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean; Member of the Conference of Delegation Chairs].
1. How should the EU address the humanitarian crises happening outside its borders?
Whenever and wherever humanitarian crises occur, the EU and the Member States must show solidarity and responsibility. Humanitarian assistance and civilian protection are a fundamental part of our core values. These also include the need for protection of those seeking asylum.
2. The Common European Asylum System: how to ensure its effective implementation in member states and guarantee the responsibility sharing between Member States?
In many ways, the Common European Asylum System is “common” only in name. Today, the level of pressure is not common. And the responsibilities are not evenly divided. Some countries grant asylum to a high proportion of asylum seekers, others only to a few. The results differ greatly between countries.
As Commission President I want to act in a pragmatic and practical way to improve the system. Increasing resettlement, testing the joint processing of applications and pooling of reception capacities, promoting integration policies, boosting the role of the European Asylum Support Office are all necessary to achieve this.
3. Is immigration a threat or an opportunity for economic growth? How to ensure a functioning system of legal economic migration at a EU level?
More than ever, the economic crisis has shown how precarious the situation of third-country nationals is on the labour market. There is evidence of social dumping and discrimination regarding equal remuneration, over-qualification, and access to labour market facilities. We need a coherent comprehensive migration policy that should reflect the positive and concrete contribution that migrants make to the European economy, including much more work on legal migration, including circular migration.
I am committed to increasing legal channels of migration as one way of reducing the need for migrants to resort to more dangerous irregular methods of entry and provide a lucrative boon to criminal gangs trafficking human beings. This is why with my political family and my group in the European Parliament we have been in the vanguard of efforts to adopt legal migration instruments at EU level that provide for the equal treatment of workers.
4. Illegal immigration and external border control: would you strengthen the patrol or rather opt for a stronger economic cooperation with third countries?
I do not see the two as mutually exclusive. I want to build on the EU’s successes as a leader in development policy, reducing the factors which push people to migrate. I want to upgrade our dialogue and cooperation, especially with our Mediterranean neighbourhood. And at the same time, we need a clear and coordinated response to manage of our external borders securely and humanely.
5. Trans-border crime poses serious problems with regard to smuggling and human trafficking: is it possible to fight those phenomena at EU level and how?
Cross-border crime is an area where a common European response can be of immense added value. Organised crime groups operate across borders – so must we in order to stop them. My political group, the S&D in the European Parliament, has been at the forefront of this fight. Notably in the efforts to negotiate the Directive on preventing and combatting the trafficking in human beings, which sets common prevention measures, common EU penalties, and defines the common EU framework on assistance and the rights of the victims
* We thank Mr. Schulz Martin for time and effort he spent answering our questionnaire feeding our long term project "Food for Thought".