Home Featured You can’t beat the far right by staying quiet on migration, Belgian minister says
You can’t beat the far right by staying quiet on migration, Belgian minister says

You can’t beat the far right by staying quiet on migration, Belgian minister says

by host

Mainstream politicians have to find their own solution to the growing number of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, regardless of the expected rise of the far-right in the European election, according to Belgium’s State Secretary for Migration Nicole de Moor, who will preside over a Wednesday meeting of EU migration ministers during Belgium’s six-month presidency of the Council of the EU.

“I don’t think you can beat the extreme by keeping quiet about the problems. Solving the problems is the solution,” said De Moor, whose country has been struggling with its own asylum crisis in recent years.

For De Moor, who is part of a seven-party coalition with very different views on migration policy, concrete steps have to “show what the [migration] pact means, what the difference is on the ground to make sure that it becomes clear very quickly that this is not just a reform on paper but on the ground.”

The work being done now on migration is separate from the Belgian and European elections in June, De Moor stressed, even though polls showing a surge in support for far-right, anti-immigration parties (in Belgium, the far-right Vlaams Belang party is leading in the polls). But work to find a viable solution on migration has to be done, De Moor said, as it is vital that Europe is able to provide an answer to concerns on the issue.

The asylum system has to go “back to basics,” she said. “Asylum is there to protect people fleeing war and persecution. But when people see that being used for other reasons, you lose support.”

As soon as possible, Belgium wants to start implementing the migration deal that the EU brokered in December after years of political deadlock. The new rules, which still need to be formally ratified, will change how the bloc limits migrants’ entry and moves around EU countries. NGOs see the December migration deal as a radical shift to the right after years of failed attempts to agree on regulations that work for EU border countries requesting assistance dealing with an influx of asylum seekers and other countries arguing migrants are arriving in one EU country and then moving on to another.

For De Moor, people should be able to seek protection in Europe when they need it. “Every wall, every barrier that exists to control access to the territory must be accompanied … with a fair, predictable and just procedure to protect people who need protection,” she said. “But those who don’t need protection and come for economic reasons cannot just come and enter [through] that same border.”

The EU’s migration ministers will on Wednesday review the next steps of the pact. The political deal is currently being ironed out by legal experts, after which De Moor hopes to ratify it “as soon as possible.”

After that, the Belgian, who is part of the center-right Christian Democratic and Flemish party (CD&V), wants to shift political attention to action on the ground. To do that, Belgium will suggest an implementation trajectory with different steps and pilot projects “in which we already put into practice part of what needs to be implemented across the bloc, for example in certain locations.”

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