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Destination Europe

Europe is 'not responsible' for illegal immigrants

Markus Ferber, a European parliamentarian from Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union, says economic migrants who arrive in Europe illegally must be returned to their home countries.

Markus Ferber

Ferber says existing EU laws are not being implemented

Markus Ferber is a representative of Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) and a member of the European Parliament’s standing committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

Deutsche Welle: More stringent surveillance of external borders, overcrowded detention centers, so-called third state regulations meaning asylum seekers are denied entry if they pass through a safe third country – in your opinion, is Europe on the right path with regards to dealing with refugees fleeing Africa and other parts of the world?

Markus Ferber: First you have to differentiate between the different types of refugees. Civil war refugees have a different protection status under European law than economic migrants, who have no residency status and have to return to their homelands. Recognized asylum seekers from third countries may not be sent back. Under the Dublin Regulation, the European Union established a system by which the state in which an asylum seeker arrives is responsible for processing their asylum claims. The EU is currently working on a revision of the asylum law. By 2012, the common asylum system in the EU should be fundamentally reformed. In my opinion, the EU Commission should ensure that the current, already standardized law is implemented before the EU law is changed.

How should Europe deal with the many undocumented immigrants already living in the EU?

The politically persecuted must receive consistent protection. However, all those who are here in the EU illegally must be returned their homelands.

Is Europe in some way responsible for the exodus of asylum seekers from places like Africa through, for example, its use of unfair economic policies?

These states and regions are facing various political, social and economic problems, which can also have an effect on the EU and provide it with new geopolitical challenges. However, I don't see that the European Union has any responsibility here because of unfair economic policies.

In recent decades, poor countries have lost a significant portion of their academics through emigration to industrialized countries. Has migration to Europe destroyed the development potential of these countries?

Of course the emigration of academics is a process that needs to be monitored carefully. Academics leave this country, however, because they believe they have more opportunities in Europe. And it is not just about the economic aspect, but also civil liberties, constitutional legalities and democracy. This is why the EU must increase its efforts to support countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, which are in a transition period on account of the Arab Spring. The EU must help these nations build democratic structures and due processes. That way, opportunities will also be available to academics in their home countries.

What would a forward-looking European migration policy look like?

On the one hand, we need a European migration policy that is closely tied to development policy. On the other hand, the EU must develop a system with immigration criteria.

Interviewer: Amine Bendrif / dfm
Editor: Sam Edmonds