Emmaus Europe speaks on behalf of 309 Emmaus groups in 17 European Countries and we are deeply concerned that the emerging Common European Asylum System is both ineffective as a strategy and a denial of the right to free movement.
It is apparent that there has been a move from an enlightened and progressive view of migration as evidenced by policies in Sweden and Germany towards one of control and the protection of both European and National borders.
The current policy of ‘Fortress Europe’ is a blatant violation of the principle of freedom of movement enshrined in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Whatever the political, economic or environmental reasons that compel migrants to leave their homes they are driven by a desire and determination to live a better life for themselves and their families and that determination equips them well to achieve success in their adopted countries as evidenced by the history of migration throughout the centuries.
The current reality of migrants being driven back by the barriers erected around Europe, the agreements with the countries of origin, in particular Libya, a dysfunctional state, and Turkey which appears to erode individual freedoms on an almost daily basis, is unacceptable.
The Emmaus Groups in Europe ask that you move back from your current approach and again support appropriate migrant reception and integration schemes that respect the fundamental rights of migrants seeking a better life.
Our founder Abbe Pierre had a message that underpinned all he did and that which we continue to do, ‘What’s my message? Just one, I believe, which is a cry to share, give and offer a helping hand to others! Always have a broken pane of glass in your comfortable existences so that you can hear the cries from outside.’
Have you stopped hearing those cries from outside, are the challenges so overwhelming and the political pressures so great that nationalism and protectionism is now your mantra?
Emmaus Groups are clear evidence of societies ability to welcome and integrate men and women who are dispossessed and excluded; we offer them respect and the dignity that comes from working, contributing to the group they live in and giving to those who have less than they do. For some this will lead to a decision to return to where they came from to invest their energy and new-found respect in helping those less well off than themselves.
Our experience challenges you as the European parliamentarians to consider the potential for actively expanding your neighbourhood policy and investing in the communities of the migrant countries of origin, where it is practical, to offer potential migrants the ability to discover the self-respect and opportunities to work, that they now leave their countries to seek.
We invite you to visit us in our groups to experience what our alternative way can offer and discuss how we together can ensure that politics and political institutions once again seek to help the most deprived and excluded peoples.
Willi DOES. President of Emmaus Europe