Theo Francken: “If we carry on like this, there will be no more EU within five years”

6 June 2018
Theo Francken

At the European Summit on Migration, the competent ministers and secretaries of state did not reach agreement on the reception, redistribution and repatriation of refugees. Secretary of State Theo Francken raised the alarm and once again explains his vision.

Theo Francken asks the competent ministers to venture out of their ivory tower and see what is happening in Europe. “As long as we are not allowed to carry out pushbacks, it will be chaos,” he emphasises. The consequences for the European Union will be severe. Right-wing parties are winning elections in all Member States. “If we carry on like this, there will be no more European Union within a few years,” the Secretary of State says.

Lack of trust

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the percentage of migrants from the crisis year of 2015 is only 0.07% compared with the European population. A barely observable number according to them. Theo Francken sees it differently: “Try asking people in Cologne, Paris or Antwerp whether the refugee crisis is barely noticeable. Then there is family reunification and the influx of illegal migration via air and land routes as well. And you mustn’t forget the historical migration. This means that in some neighbourhoods more than 60 or 70% of residents are of foreign origin.” So you have to approach that figure of 0.07% differently and only look at the countries to which migrants come. In Hungary, where there is a very strict asylum policy, the percentage of refugees is 0%.

The agreement that was on the table at the European summit to redistribute refugees and migrants among European countries has been swept away. Theo Francken says: “When you see that, three years later, we are further away than ever from an agreement on reforming the Dublin Regulation, you can assume that there will be no Dublin 4.0. So there will be no European internal redistribution rules for migrants. Italy and Greece do not believe that the European partners will help them if there is another crisis. The other European countries do not sufficiently trust Italy and Greece because, after fifteen years, they have still not drawn up a decent asylum policy.”

Close the front and back doors

It makes no sense to continue arguing about internal European arrangements. This will not enable us to solve the migration problem. So what is the alternative? Theo Francken says: “We must ensure that the influx drops. Close both the front and the back door of the European house. Until that happens, there will always be insufficient trust among European countries.” This means that Europe’s external borders must be monitored much more strictly, as the N-VA has long advocated, the EU-Turkey deal must be maintained and a new deal must be concluded to close the Libya-Italy route.”

Stopping human traffickers

Refugees are currently being picked up in Italy by Libyan ships and returned to Libya. These are the so-called “take-backs”, an agreement between Italy and Libya. Secretary of State Francken proposes a more efficient solution. Rescue all refugees arriving from Libya and Tunisia in boats, but don’t automatically take them to Europe any longer. Take them to a large and safe refugee camp in Tunisia. Tunisia is a stable country that has signed the Geneva Convention and which is thus a country where no violations of human rights take place. The European Union will be fully responsible for the costs of that camp.” This idea is not new. It is similar to the deal that already exists today with Turkey. The greatest advantage is that there will no longer be hundreds of deaths on this refugee route. According to the Secretary of State, it is also the only way to stop human traffickers. No African will then still spend the equivalent of a year’s wage to end up back in North Africa.

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