|Author (Person)||Banks, Martin|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.39, 25.10.01, p9|
EU LEADERS have been urged to stop paying "lip service" to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.
The call follows a conference on EU migration policies and comes amid growing concern that Union member states will put up the shutters to immigrants in the wake of the current Afghanistan crisis.
The 19 men who hijacked the planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, killing more than 6,000 people, were foreigners who had been in the US from a week to several years.
Much of the three-day Brussels conference was taken up by discussions over the impact any new security measures will have on immigration.
Speaking afterwards, Peer Baneke, of the European Council on Refugees, said he was concerned that European states, as well as the US, would tighten their border controls following the attacks.
He said: "Rather than closing their borders, however, we would rather that member states stopped paying lip service to the needs of immigrants and asylum seekers and developed a common European policy on this issue. Deterring refugees leads only to the tragedy of human trafficking and countries distrusting and competing with each other."
He said immigration and asylum should be given top priority at the forthcoming Laeken summit in December.
The conference, organised by the European Parliament and Belgium, which holds the rotating EU presidency, was attended by Justice and Home
Affairs Commissioner António Vitorino, Commission President Romano Prodi and British Home Secretary David Blunkett.
The gathering was told that the current intense debate about national borders and security was being played out against a backdrop of Europe's continuing appeal for asylum-seekers.
The Council also pointed out that the continent's strong economies and liberal democracies were attracting increasing numbers of 'economic' migrants and people in need of protection.
In 1998, of the EU's 374 million people, 19 million were migrants, of which 13 million were from outside the Union. The number of asylum applications in the EU rose slightly from 387,000 in 1999 to almost 390,000 last year.
Jan Niessen, of the Migration Policy Group, said: "There is not a single EU member state that is not affected by migratory movements. While the terrorist attacks on the US were awful, they must not be allowed to dominate policy on immigration and asylum."
EU leaders have been urged to stop paying 'lip service' to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers. The call follows a conference on EU migration policies and comes amid growing concern that Member States will put up the shutters to immigrants in the wake of the current Afghanistan crisis.
|Subject Categories||Justice and Home Affairs|