Europe and the New Pact on Migration and Asylum: That is, the Abandonment of the Constitutive Values of European Integration

On September 23, 2020, the European Commission published the main lines of what has been called “a new beginning in terms of migration in Europe.” “This so-called new beginning,” firmly affirms Fr. Lorenzo Prencipe, President of the Fondazione Centro Studi Emigrazione di Roma, “is actually more the abjuration of the values ​​that have guided, through ups and downs, seventy years of the European integration process than a real search for a balance between responsibility and solidarity.”

Reading the text of the Commission, what emerges is that the European Union intends to increasingly close its borders, to limit the entry of migrants and asylum seekers as much as possible, and to encourage repatriation by all means. Europe, despite its differences and indeed thanks to its diversity, has been built, highlights Fr. Prencipe. “[Europe has been] from the beginning as an open civilization, perfectible and in a continuous and renewed search for unity. Europe is its history is made up of encounters, clashes, contaminations, interbreeding between men, ideas, religions, and different political visions. People who consider Europe as a static fact, fixed in a certain period, they are not interested in its history, its past nor its future which is also its destiny, its path towards an ever more shared and open European citizenship.”

Faced with the concerns of countries at the EU’s external borders, which fear that migratory pressures will overwhelm their capacities and who want the solidarity of others, and those of the other EU Member States, who fear that, in the event of non-compliance procedures at the external borders, the respective national systems of asylum, integration or return will not be able to cope with the situation in case of large flows. We recall that since the beginning of 2020, according to Eurostat, there are about 247 thousand asylum requests presented in the EU and there were 676 thousand in 2019. This confirms that Europe is one of the geographical areas of the world least affected by the flow of people fleeing their homes (80 million in 2019 according to UNHCR.)

We strongly ask ourselves: “What would be the ‘really new’ policies for migrants and refugees?” As Scalabrinians we believe that civil society should not abandon the initiatives and guidelines defined by the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” (signed in Marrakech-Morocco, between 10 and 11 of December 2018, by 164 countries) to protect migrants in a framework of international cooperation, resisting the acts of sabotage of today’s sovereignties and nationalisms.

Specifically, to protect all those involved in migration, it is therefore:

  • ensure both the freedom to remain in one’s own country (by minimizing expulsion factors)
  • such as that of leaving (indicate legal routes, safeguarding human life in danger, combating traffickers, transparent and effective procedures for the reception and installation of migrants and refugees, access to basic services),
  • to remain in the country of destination (recruitment procedures and decent work conditions, recognition of skills, qualifications, and competences, anti-discrimination measures for inclusion and social cohesion for migrants and natives)
  • and to return to the country of origin (security for the transfer of remittances, co-development, and cooperation projects towards the countries of origin, facilitating returns and reintegration into society, portability of social security benefits).

“Such policies”, concludes Fr. Prencipe, “demand a radical change of approach to migrants and refugees, considered and respected in their human dignity before any other socio-economic value, without ever forgetting the illuminating observation of Giovanni Battista Scalabrini who already stated at the end of the nineteenth century:

“[Emigration] is a part of the complex social question ‘and’ laws [alone] are not enough to heal the wounds that afflict our emigration because some of them are inherent to the nature of emigration, others derive from remote causes, which escape the action of the law”.


Scalabrinian Missionaries Press Office