The human cost of the global refugee crisis unfolding on Europe’s doorstep figures prominently in media headlines. But what the news often fails to mention are the positive contributions that the EU and its Member States are making to both short- and longterm measures to help refugees seeking asylum and deter other would-be economic migrants from making dangerous journeys.
Because staggering numbers of refugees are fleeing war and persecution and risking everything to seek new lives in Europe, many become vulnerable to desperate open sea crossings and susceptible to the promises and practices of unsavory human smugglers. The EU and its Member States are focused in the immediate term on saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea and breaking the business model used by the human smugglers. Short-term EU objectives also include better management of migrant flows by increasing the rate of returns of “irregular” migrants to their countries of origin or transit—the countries migrants are from or those through which they travel. (“Irregular” migrants are those who seek entry into the EU, but have not qualified through set legal processes.) These goals go hand-in-hand with longer-term objectives designed to improve conditions in origin and transit countries and help stem the flood of refugees and migrants risking their lives to reach Europe.
The European Union and its Member States have already contributed to and will continue to address the root causes spurring this 21st century great migration to Europe from the south and the east. And, the EU is refining ways in which it can tailor mutually beneficial partnerships with migrants’ countries of origin and transit that advance these countries’ political, social, and economic situations, so that refugees can remain close to home and avoid taking perilous journeys.