Lissabon 3 juni 2011
Tobias Billström, Migrationsminister
Tal av Tobias Billström vid The Transatlantic Council on Migration i Lissabon, på engelska
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
- The recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa are a powerful testament to the will and aspirations of the people in the region for human rights, freedom and democracy, as well as development and growth. These developments give us reason to reflect on the difficult situation which many labor migrants and refugees now find themselves in, but also pause to acknowledge the vital role of migration and mobility in social change and development.
- The situation in North Africa has highlighted the challenge we face together. Almost 900 000 migrants have fled the violence in Libya, entering mainly Tunisia and Egypt but also Niger, Algeria, Chad and Sudan. IOM and UNHCR have assisted up to 140 000 migrants or more to return to their home countries in a cooperation that can only be described as impressive. The efforts by IOM and UNHCR have displayed an unprecedented approach to cooperation, an approach which is useful for further discussions on different actors' roles in governance.
- The crisis and the humanitarian emergency situation has revealed that the EU can respond urgently and efficiently and work closely with actors, such as UNHCR, IOM, ICRC, etc. The EU has mobilized funds to assist migrants and refugees in the provision of temporary shelter and in return of migrants to their home countries. The 40 M EUR that the EU has mobilized has been important to minimize some of the pressure on the reception capacities in Tunisia and Egypt. Continued EU cooperation with the different actors on the ground will also be needed in the transition period.
- Resettlement is not the only solution but it is an important part of a comprehensive approach. Europe can play a more vital role here and financial incentives should be used in an efficient manner. It is worrying therefore that the EU does not seem to make headway on resettlement. If we assist the major receiving countries in the region we contribute to creating protection space in the regions through alleviating the pressures on those countries.
- Both short- and long-term measures by the EU are necessary to reach sustainable solutions in the region, meet the needs of our partner countries as well as EU's needs. Governance should be used to respond to these challenges through a broad and comprehensive approach. We should also learn from EU's good practices regarding cooperation with different actors in North Africa and foster them further.
- The EU still has to manage some challenges that the situation in Mediterranean has uncovered. The EU Commission has recently presented a communication on a dialogue for migration, mobility and security with the Southern Mediterranean. The Commission responds here to the call made by the European Council at its meeting on 24 March to present a plan for the development of capacities to manage migration and refugee flows in the Mediterranean.
- We know that North Africa wants to cooperate with the EU and in particular on mobility. In this perspective the Commission's communication on a dialogue on migration, mobility and security is central, including the development of Mobility Partnerships.
- However, we should also recognize that this is an opportunity for meeting the needs of the EU. It is well-known that the EU will need labor migrants at all skills level from outside the EU in order to face labour shortages in the future. To allow citizens from North Africa to circulate more freely between Europe and their home countries in a well-organized, well-governed way is an important objective. As Peter Sutherland wrote recently "that is a much smarter solution than the current approach, which sustains illegal immigration without meeting Europe's labour needs".
- The EU needs to consider how to further open up channels for legal migration while preserving our objective of a system of orderly migration.
- As an example: Sweden has since over two years back introduced a new legislation for labor migration. The Swedish labor immigration system is entirely demand driven as it is up to the individual employers to decide whether they have a need to recruit someone from a third country.
- This creates a system that is flexible and effective in meeting labor shortages. A system in this direction can also respond to the wishes of the North African countries and I would like to see other EU countries follow the Swedish approach.
- In this context underline the importance of the current ongoing process to evaluate and reform the Global Approach to Migration. This framework is essential in building relations with partner countries and international organizations. It could be used more fully in order to further dialogue and operational cooperation for instance on mobility and capacity building with relevant third countries in North Africa.
- Other important components: The second action plan of the EU-Africa partnership on migration, mobility and employment could play a more vital role. In this perspective Sweden would like to see a development on one of the initiatives, i.e. on labour market governance and capacity building. We see the potential on working with employment issues linked to labour migration and circular migration.
- The EU Global Approach to Migration can be seen as a comprehensive way for the EU to "govern" its relation with countries outside the Union. We need to continue with this broad and holistic approach in our relations with our neighbors, including the North African region, and gradually improve and strengthen the way it functions. In order to do so, the EU must continue to develop a Common Comprehensive European Migration Policy. This should take into account the realities of the global labour market.