From Commissioner’s Cecilia Malmström blog:
“It’s important to prepare for what’s happening in Northern Africa and to have a long term strategy for the cooperation with our neighbouring countries. There’s however quite worrying tendencies in Member States to be too event-driven and calling for quick-fix measures. It’s important to remember that out of the approx. 25.000 migrants coming to the EU the last couple of months only a few thousands are refugees, seeking asylum in the EU. The others are economical migrants from Tunisia looking for work and a better life in Europe. These people are likely to be sent back to Tunisia. The few thousand refugees that have been coming the last months should also be seen in the right perspective – last year France alone received 48.000 asylum seekers and Sweden 32.000 – the total number of refugees coming to the EU last year was 236.000.
As I wrote in my previous blog entry, migration policy needs long term strategies and well thought through measures and mustn’t be driven by populist movements. Next week I’ll present a Strategy Paper presenting a holistic approach on migration to my colleagues in the Commission. The Strategy Paper addresses the urgent need for a common European asylum and migration policy and the need for solidarity with the European countries most exposed to migration flows (Italy and Malta at this point), but also with neighbouring countries, such as Tunisia and Egypt, where the lion part of the refugees from Libya have fled to.”
On a slightly related point, the link between anti-immigrant views and increasing support for some political parties such the Front National and Marine Le Pen in France and the Northern League in Italy are well know. In Finland a populist party, the True Finns, has for the first time entered Government after its stunning third place finish in the 17 April parliamentary elections. Many have described the True Finns as populist party that is most interested in the Euro crisis and the financial bailouts. But recent public comments of new True Finn MP Teuvo Hakkarainen reveal the anti-immigrant and racist sentiments held by some party members. According to YLE, Hakkarainen said that “Negros” would be arriving at Finland’s borders and warned that minarets would arise all over Helsinki. Some credit is due to True Finns Party chair Timo Soini who has reprimanded Hakkarainen for his comments. The new Government has just been formed and the True Finns will chair the parliamentary committees responsible for Foreign Affairs, Defence, and the Administration Committee which has responsibility for immigration issues. Over 1000 people demonstrated in front of the Parliament building earlier in the week in support of tolerance and multiculturalism.