European Interest

Caritas Europa: State of the Union, another missed opportunity

A rubber boat carrying around 50 migrants and refugees arrives from Bodrum in Turkey to the Greek island of Kos, September 2, 2015.

Today, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his annual speech about the State of the Union . Caritas Europa regrets that Mr. Juncker’s speech was a missed opportunity to outline a real vision for an “open and tolerant” Europe as a global player.

Likewise, we missed the lack of any reference to the Sustainable Development Goals, which should be the framework guiding all actions of the EU, both within and outside of Europe.

“We are concerned that EU-Africa relations are seen only through the lens of investment and trade”, says Jorge Nuño Mayer, Caritas Europa’s Secretary General, who also stresses that “any investment initiative with African partners must put the development of people and communities at the centre, leaving no one behind. No actions should come at the expense of the EU’s existing development aid commitments”.

To paraphrase Juncker’s own words, Europe should never become a Fortress. The EU urgently needs a U-turn in migration policies, in line with the EU’s values and human rights.

“Increasing border control and prioritising the return of migrants cannot be silver bullet solutions to the EU’s challenges”, comments Shannon Pfohman, Caritas Europa’s Policy and Advocacy Director. “Instead, a long-term strategy is needed that facilitates migration to Europe. Juncker’s call to bolster solidarity, and safe and legal channels must be turned into concrete actions,” she says.

Caritas Europa calls on the European Commission to seize the remaining months of its mandate to strengthen the EU’s role as a global advocate for sustainable development goals and human rights in the world.


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