Europe cannot 'fail twice on migration' and must avoid a repeat of the 2015 crisis, Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas stated.
He added that the bloc cannot have similar scenes to those seen five years ago, when more than a million exiles fleeing wars, persecution or poverty flooded the continent.
His comments were made after the a meeting of ministers from 18 EU and Western Balkan nations.
'This is the moment, now,' Schinas said, referring to a long-awaited and repeatedly postponed proposal for the reform of EU migration and asylum policy, which the European Commission is expected to unveil in September.
The Commissioner pointed out that the fact the bloc’s heads of government agreed on a €750 billion package aimed at funding post-pandemic relief efforts in the EU, has cleared the way for progress on other issues.
'We didn't want to contaminate the discussions on the recovery plan with another difficult file on migration,' Schinas added.
Important Ministerial Conference today in Vienna on EU-Western Balkan Partnerhsip in addressing #migration challenges. Breaking the business model of smugglers, stepping up returns, reinforcing border management and asylum capacities. Thank you @karlnehammer for the initiative pic.twitter.com/R8fBWPDywY
— Margaritis Schinas (@MargSchinas) July 23, 2020
Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer stressed the need for tighter procedures to decide at the EU's external borders who was eligible for refugee status. He also underscored higher levels of returns to countries of origin for those who do not get refugee status.
The minister said Germany was now registering between 300 and 400 arrivals per day of people seeking to stay, the same number as before the coronavirus pandemic caused a drop.