The European Union (EU) does not have a specific regulation that prevent member countries from moving migrants or refugees within their territories, which denies what was stated on Friday by the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who assured during a visit to Morocco that the Government does not transfer migrants blocked in the Canary Islands to the Peninsula due to “migration policies, which are from the whole of the European Union and not only from Spain.” Marlaska thus implied that the decision that the migrants remain in the Canary Islands until they are deported or their papers are processed it is due to a European policy, which is not entirely true.
As explained by migration representatives of the European Commission there is no European regulation that prevents a Member State from moving immigrants or refugees within its national territory, so this argument falls under its own weight. In fact, the powers of the European Union in migration policy are very limited and are mainly based on the regulation of reception conditions, in relation to the European Directive on Migration and Asylum.
For its part, the national management of the migratory phenomenon is entirely the responsibility of the Member State within its borders. Hence it is explained that with the same European standards, while Germany accepted between the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 more than a million refugees, Hungary would accept practically none.
The Migration Pact that the European Commission presented after the summer and which is under discussion goes a little further, but it still does not enter into national powers because the executive arm of the European Union cannot propose legislation to leave what the treaties consider community competences.
In her recent visit to the Canary Islands, the European Commissioner for the Interior, Ylva Johansson, warned that “economic immigrants” who arrive in Europe and do not have the right to international protection “must be returned to their countries” and added that, although the EU needs these flows, because it ages, can only assume those who arrive by “legal channels”. Johansson assured that he “will seek a way” for the EU to continue cooperating with African countries in training their police forces to control their borders.
For his part, in Rabat Marlaska said that the Government wants to prevent the Canary Islands from becoming “the means of irregular entry into Europe.” Marlaska’s refusal to transfer migrants from the Canary Islands to the Peninsula makes the islands the stopper of another migration route, one of the most dangerous. Between 500 and 1,000 people could have lost their lives crossing in canoes from the African coast to the Canary Islands just so far this year. Only Senegal is already counting up to 600 dead or missing on the route to the Islands.
No European Union institution would tell French President Emmanuel Macron whether or not he should move immigrants from, for example, Marseille to Paris. Or Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who does not transfer migrants from the south to the north of Italy. The decision to leave thousands of refugees and migrants on the Aegean islands and not take them to Athens, for example, is made by the Greek government, not the European Commission. Grande-Marlaska could be referring to what Brussels wants, although he does not say so. Community sources explained since at least 2015 that they preferred that the Greek Government leave refugees blocked on islands such as Lesbos, Kos or Samos. It was the easiest way for them not to continue on their way to northern Europe. It was never an official policy because that decision is of Hellenic national competence.
The European migration policy remains weak and imprecise due to the pressure existing in recent years at various points on its external borders. Both from Turkey and from the Mediterranean and now through the Atlantic, the waves of migrants and refugees who seek to enter Europe do not stop and it is the States in most cases that face them with their own means because the Frontex agency does not have sufficient capacity to respond to a phenomenon that does not stop growing.
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