Consultant at Carnegie Europe and French Ambassador to the European Union, Pierre Vimont was the organizer of the Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015. This specialist in European Neighborhood Policy, Transatlantic Relations and french Foreign Policy participated in the Femise annual conference on the 29th and 30th of April 2017 in Casablanca. About a hundred Mediterranean experts delivered their analyzes on the theme of “Migration and Refugees Crisis in the EU-Med: Dawn of an era of shared responsibility? “.
Since 2010 Arab states are undergoing an unprecedented crisis. What is the state of play?
These crises gave rise to hope in both Arab and European countries. But after a while, some countries faced economic difficulties. Hope gave its place to disenchantement in Syria, Libya and Yemen. There is a real difficulty in defining the needed actions to help these countries achieve political stability, security and economic prosperity.
Immigration of refugees has fragmented the European territory. Is this issue not a danger to Europe?
The management of the refugees crisis creates a profound division within Member States. However, we must never lose hope with Europe. Solidarity, loyal cooperation among all partners, is key to the problem. Italy and Greece, given their geographical position, are making much more efforts to welcome immigrants and grant them the right to asylum. In 2016, 770,000 people benefited from the right to asylum. There are too many disparities between states. Everyone must participate in the effort to welcome refugees in an equitable manner. Nearly 450,000 reside in Germany, while France only counts 35,000.
How is France positioned?
The French effort in the field of asylum right remains much lower than in Germany. This country replenishes a demographic deficit that generates unfilled jobs. France is trying to improve its asylum system, making it more efficient for decisions to be made more rapidly. The deadlines for granting asylum are currently around one year but should be reduced by half. The french public opinion remains very reserved with regard to refugees and economic emigrants. The French authorities are quite cautious on this issue. Many believe that immigrants generate unfair competition. However, they occupy jobs that the French refuse to perform such as the collection of household garbage in large cities or the employment of seasonal workers in the agricultural field.
How can we avoid any risk of amalgation between terrorist attacks and the rise of Islamism?
Political leaders, intellectuals and elites must be pedagogical. They must explain the migratory phenomena to avoid any risk of amalgamation. To do this, one must have the courage to speak and explain the reality of what is happening on the ground. Political refugees are not illegal immigrants attracted by unscrupulous employers. They are persecuted citizens in their countries, with no alternative but to flee.
The reports of the Plenary Sessions of the FEMISE 2017 Annual conference are available by clicking here.
Interview undertaken by Nathalie Bureau du Colombier in partnership with Econostrum at teh FEMISE Annual Conference of 2017- Photo by Nathalie Bureau du Colombier.
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