EU interior ministers have discussed new laws to send back illegal migrants who do not qualify for asylum. The countries say their initiative is part of efforts to accommodate refugees who genuinely need help.
Representatives of EU states met in Luxembourg on Thursday to draw out a 10-point plan on the future of the bloc's deportation policy. The new system will allow faster and easier deportation of refugees who did not get asylum in Europe.
The plan also includes arranging joint flights, organized by the European border agency Frontex, to send back economic migrants to their home countries.
According to a statement from the ministers, the intitiative will action with respect to migrants' human rights.
"The Council reaffirms that a coherent, credible and effective policy with regard to the return of illegally staying third-country nationals, which fully respects human rights and the dignity of the persons concerned as well as the principle of non-refoulement, is an essential part of a comprehensive EU migration policy," the statement said.
Incentives for repatriation
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Thursday that he approved of the EU's plans to deport migrants who could not claim asylum.
"We can offer a place to live and support to those refugees who need safety only when the ones who do not need it, do not come in the first place or are sent back soon," de Maiziere said in Luxembourg.
De Maiziere also said he supported a proposal to engage migrants' home countries by offering economic and development incentives as motivation to repatriate citizens.
Crackdown on asylum abuse
"We need to see Europe upping its game," Britain's Home Secretary Minister Theresa May said prior to the meeting.
The EU "should be sending economic migrants back to their countries of origin. It's why we need to crack down on those who are abusing our asylum systems," she said.
The UK's Representation to the EU also posted May's statement on Twitter:
May also suggested that other countries in the EU take more refugees directly from camps outside Europe. Britain announced last month it will take 20,000 Syrians living in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
The recent influx of refugees in Europe is the largest since World War II, and EU members are finding it challenging to deal with the overwhelming number of people.
Critics of the EU's current asylum policy argue that sending back economic migrants will help in reducing the numbers. In 2013, less than 40 percent of migrants marked for deportation were actually sent back.
French officials also pleaded for EU member states to bolster staff at the 28-nation bloc's Frontex border agency.
mg,ls/sms (AP, dpa, AFP)