The debate was chaired by Louis Michel, a Belgian member of the ALDE group, who said: “2015 marks a macabre record: more than 3,500 migrants lost their lives in Mediterranean.”
Tackling the root causes
Many agreed that even if it is urgent and necessary to address migration flows, the root causes must also be tackled.
Adjedoue Weidou, from Chad, said: “If war doesn’t end, then there will be more migration.” Marlene Mizzi, a Maltese member of the S&D group, added: “The only way to address the migration problem is to treat the causes rather than keep putting out fires.”
Bodil Valero, a Swedish member of the Greens/EFA, group, warned: “There will be more refugees in the future, not only because of war and for economic reasons; we will also see climate refugees.”
Some also mentioned that migration could also have advantages. Catherine Bearder, a UK member of the ALDE group, said: “Many benefits may be derived from migrants, like filling low and high skilled jobs that local communities are unable or unwilling to do.” She added that young migrants studying in the EU can benefit their country once they return.
However, Elmi Obsieh Wais, from Djibouti, said: “These people emigrate and it is not necessarily good thing for developing countries.”
Participants in the debate also stressed the need to work together on migration.
Michael Gahler, a German member of the EPP group, said: “As Europeans we have a lot of work to do to agree among ourselves and we need to get together with our partners in ACP countries.”
Lidia Senra Rodriguez, a Spanish member of the GUE/NGL group, said: “We need to reject the actions of countries that reject and use violence in order to maintain inhuman conditions for migrants.”
Netty Baldeh, from Gambia, said: “If we encouraged the Arab spring, we should be able to take care of the European winter.”