Green Party EU parliamentarian Franziska Keller: ‘Refugees must have safe access to Europe’

Deutsche Welle: More than 100,000 refugees have arrived at the Italian coast this year – already 60% more than in 2013. What can the European Union do to prevent this humanitarian disaster continuing in the second half of the year?

Franziska Keller: There are so many hotspots at the moment around the world, and obviously the people have to flee them…

At the moment the EU’s asylum policy is based on separation, and it deploys Frontex, the European external border security agency. It is used to border security, but it can’t deal with refugees, and is of no help with Syrian refugees, who have an obvious right to asylum. We need a solution to how people can reach Europe safely without risking their lives in ramshackle boats on the Mediterranean.
DW: The EU has also reached many agreements with countries from where refugees start their journeys or board boats, like Morocco. What can these agreements really achieve?

FK: I am very critical of these agreements. In the end they are always about defending the EU Commission. The aim is to get those countries to stop the refugees.

It doesn’t tackle the causes for the migration. It doesn’t ease the suffering of the people who are fleeing from civil wars and persecution. That is a non-humanitarian fighting of symptoms.

That can’t be the goal of European asylum policy. We have to strengthen the legal and safe access to Europe. One option would be resettlement programs supported by the [UN refugee agency] UNHCR. There should be a humanitarian visa, which is already possible under EU law.

People should be able to come to Europe without a visa.

Franziska Keller has been a representative of the German Green party at the European Parliament since 2009, and was the leading candidate in this year’s parliamentary elections. She specializes in migration issues and often visits refugee camps in crisis regions.