During his visit in Brussels on 27 May, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon voiced his concerns about the presented EU plans to curb illegal immigration via the Mediterranean by destroying the smugglers´ boats on Libyan coast. This approach is part of a wider EU strategy to fight the migration flows from the South and Brussels formally launched a military operation recently to carry out this task. Now, the EU is seeking either UN or Libyan approval to be legally allowed to carry out such military operations. According to Ban, destroying boats will do more harm than good – it will deprive many people of their only way to make living. The boats are usually used for legitimate activities and only occasionally smuggle people to Europe. He also stated that although many of the migrants are not refugees, about half of them surely are and are thus eligible for international protection – hence a morally problematic aspect of the plan, which would also worsen EU´s image. On the other hand, Ban supported the intra-EU refugee relocation scheme proposed by the Commission, the so-called quotas. According to the Secretary General, the EU should accept as many people as possible – not only because they face persecution at home, but also due to the aging EU population. The economy will need a boost from immigration very soon.
The quotas, however, are unlikely to pass under the present form. Many EU countries fiercely oppose the project, among others France or Britain, although the latter has a formal opt-out from such policies and therefore would not be subject to quotas anyway. The Central European countries also refused the plan.
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11th January 2018
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