“No Fortress Europe” states Commissioner-designate for Migration & Home Affairs

By October 6, 2014EU

By Rodolphe Van Nuffel

On 30 September, Dimitris Avramopoulos (EPP, Greece) was heard by the LIBE committee of the European Parliament to defend its position as Commissioner-designate for Migration and Home Affairs. A couple of hours later he was confirmed by the Committee and will need to await October 22nd and the vote in plenary before being assured that the College he could be part of will be confirmed.

After introducing its speech in English and Greek, Avramopoulos answered questions in French and English, not his native languages. All Commissioners-designate until now had chosen to speak in their native language and this is also part of the communication competences the Parliament looks at when evaluating designates.

During his opening speech, Mr Avramopoulos warned that Europe should not become a fortress. “We have to improve our capacity to handle asylum migrants. More solidarity is needed and this is only possible if member states trust each other and assume their responsibilities. However, international solidarity must not stop at Europe’s borders. I will work closely to create a more joined up policy for refugees and immigration. Resettlement of refugees is one of the most tangible acts of solidarity and generosity.”

An important part of his intervention was also related to European needs for workers. “We have to maximize the benefits of international mobility and integration. The international competition for high level skills is already intense, but Europe also needs people working in other sectors. I believe that a European platform coordinating that dialogue would be very useful.“

Commissioner-designate Avramopoulos stated on data retention that it remains an important security instrument. Following the ruling of the ECJ, the Commission and Parliament will need to examine the new and possible options while respecting the principles outlined in the ruling. Only a small number of questions of MEPs focused on data retention, but not much new was said.

More generally Mr Avramopoulus insisted on the need for a good open, frank and continuous dialogue with the European Parliament, and more specifically with the LIBE committee, saying that he will not be able to work alone and that he needs coordination with the European Parliament and other Commissioners with whom competences are shared.