The European Union should address the issues that are causing waves of refugees, the heads of state of nine EU countries agreed at an Arraiolos Group meeting in Portugal, with Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev calling for an integrated European approach to address these problems.
The meeting is being attended by the heads of state of Bulgaria, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Austria, Finland, Estonia, Hungary and Latvia.
In 2013, terrorism led to millions of people being expelled from their homes and heading to the borders of the EU, and the heads of state at the meeting shared the understanding that “only together within a broad coalition can we solve the problem of terrorist organisations,” Plevneliev said.
Dealing with refugee flows called for increased attention from the European institutions and for a common European policy, he said.
“There is hope in that, in the new European Commission there is a Commissioner with enviable experience in the field of immigration, namely the representative of Greece (Dimitris Avramopolous, designated Home Affairs and Migration Commissioner in the Jean-Claude Juncker EC that will take office in November). It will not be easy, because crises can not be solved overnight,” Plevneliev said.
During the forum, Plevneliev again called for a fair distribution of the burden of the immigration wave and for the strengthening of European institutions, of Frontex, and especially for prevention.
“For us to be effective we need to turn our attention to and work in Syria, Libya and Lebanon and in Ukraine, so that these people can live in their own countries, not become refugees,” Plevneliev said.
According to Eurostat statistics, 60 per cent of immigrants entering the EU headed for only five countries and 90 per cent of them headed for 10 countries.
“This shows that we do not have fair burden sharing. And because of this there is a need to focus a new European policy,” Plevneliev said.
He said that the participants in the meeting agreed on the need for the adoption as soon as possible of a policy to deal with the refugee pressure and they expected action from the European Commission.