National and international action in response to the refugee tragedy [fr]
A significant increase in the numbers of illegal immigrants entering the Schengen Area has been observed since March 2014. These populations are seeking to enter Europe, sometimes putting their lives at risk. Criminal people smuggling organisations are benefiting from such human tragedies. The Government intends to act at both national and international levels to welcome refugees with dignity and eliminate the causes of such tragedies.
- Speech by Manuel Valls, Prime Minister
- The reception of refugees in France and in Europe (PDF - 512.5 kb)
The Government intends to pursue its existing course of action and provide solutions that meet the challenge presented by refugees, which is a Europe-wide challenge.
This course of action primarily involves adapting national tools to this migration crisis:
- with the reform of the asylum system, initiated by the Act of July 2015, which reduces the time frames for examining asylum applications, improves the welcome asylum-seekers receive and better distributes them across the country, and reinforces their rights through the transposition of European standards;
- with a "migrant plan" for the creation of 11,000 places. This includes an important section on fighting illegal economic immigration and people smuggling networks.
This course of action also involves seeking a balanced European solution designed to:
- manage flows of migrants by distinguishing, in ’frontline’ countries, between those in need of protection, who should be distributed across the Union by means of a relocation mechanism in order to lighten the burden on frontline States, and economic migrants, who should be returned with dignity to their home country. This is the intended purpose of identification and registration centres (’hot spots’), which must be set up in these countries by the end of the year;
- better control the Union’s external border by supporting those countries faced with a mass influx of migrants. This is the role of Frontex, the duties of which may eventually be incorporated into a European border protection system;
- more effectively fight illegal immigration networks, notably by strengthening European police cooperation.
These issues, and the Commission’s proposed distribution of 120,000 asylum-seekers from frontline countries (Italy, Greece and Hungary) in particular, were debated at the Extraordinary Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers on 14 September; in two years, France will be urged to take 24,000 people clearly in need of protection, in addition to the 6,750 people that it agreed to take last July in the framework of the initial decision to relocate refugees in Europe. This relocation will be governed by the strict conditions outlined above. Bernard Cazeneuve felt that good progress had been made during this extraordinary Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, and that progress now needs to be made with regard to relocating refugees. Responsibility for their reception cannot fall on just five EU countries, as solidarity is not divisible.
Furthermore, as a voluntary gesture of solidarity towards Germany, France is arranging to immediately host, in France, 1,000 people from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea, arriving from Bavaria and clearly in need of protection.
With this in mind, the Minister for the Interior has invited French mayors to attend a meeting on Saturday 12 September aimed at coordinating regional authorities’ hosting initiatives with existing systems.
Finally, this course of action involves developing a joint solution with the home and transit countries.
France is responding to the humanitarian emergency by providing vital resources for the United Nations agencies and non-government organisations working in the camps in the countries neighbouring Syria. Humanitarian needs are increasing on the European continent, too.
The fight against criminal migrant trafficking networks operating from the southern banks of the Mediterranean must also continue. Initial solutions have been provided in the central Mediterranean region. Furthermore, the ability of partner countries to monitor and manage borders, particularly where the Sahel countries are concerned, must be improved.
Finally, the EU-Africa Summit in Valletta on 11 and 12 November must help establish a renewed partnership with the African countries. In order to move forward, the summit must take into account the concerns of the African partners with a view to better managing migration flows.
A conference on victims of ethnic or religious violence in the Middle East was held in Paris on 8 September. An action plan was drawn up in response to the humanitarian emergency in refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan in order to strengthen judicial cooperation and prevent terrorists from going unpunished. We will not let the ancient diversity of the Middle East disappear without taking action.
To this end, France has agreed to pay the first €25m. Other funding will then follow:
- €10m will go into an emergency fund for bomb disposal, housing, rehabilitation and judicial cooperation initiatives, notably to prevent terrorists from going unpunished;
- €15m mobilised by the French Development Agency (AFD) will contribute to funding refugee camps and supporting countries that take in refugees, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
A follow-up conference is expected to be held in Spain in early 2016.
The Prime Minister chaired a meeting attended by all ministers affected by the hosting of Syrian and Iraqi refugees on 9 September. The ministers outlined the nature and scope of the support that each of their ministries is lending to the preparation, organisation and smooth running of hosting operations. This concerns the immediate hosting of a thousand people currently located in Germany, as well as the scheduled settlement of new refugees over the course of the next two years.
Furthermore, Bernard Cazeneuve hosted a national mobilisation meeting on 12 September involving all mayors of towns that are willing to help with hosting these refugees in partnership with the State. The inter-ministerial meeting outlined the financial support measures that the State will offer for municipalities willing to participate.