Migration and security are the two top issues worldwide.75 million refugees and 260 million migrants are on the move. Europe’s future depends on how these two big issues will evolve.
Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos
On 21 March 2019, European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos took part in a Citizens' Dialogue at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia. The Dialogue focused on the topics of migration and security and analysed how Europe is facing those two issues. The event was well attended with approximately 200 people including not only students from the University of Cyprus, but also academics, politicians and citizens.
Commissioner Avramopoulos underlined that populist forces are taking advantage of migration and security issues and adopting oversimplified rhetoric in order to lure the public to the wrong direction. This in turn cultivates xenophobia, racism and challenges the foundations of Europe as well as the principles and values upon which Europe was established.
He also acknowledged the fact that the EU was unprepared to deal with migration, adding that the problem in Europe is that there is no coordination between the Member States. He added, however, that “we are not in a crisis” now, as arrivals have plummeted and are manageable".
He also distinguished migration from terrorism, warning against such confusion. He stressed the need to protect the EU's external borders, noting that EUROPOL officials will arrive at Larnaca airport soon "in order to better control our shared European borders."
Participants were very interested in questions of migration, security, human rights, radicalization, extremism, terrorism, and the forthcoming European elections.
On the subject of migration, one participant wanted to know what the EU’s view was on the trend of ‘securitisation of the issue of migration”, while another one asked how the EU was going to help the people in Africa to avoid migration from that region.
Replying to this, the Commissioner spoke about the support provided to African countries aiming to create 10 million jobs in the continent, adding that development is the only road to the democratisation of these countries.
Another participant asked Commissioner Avramopoulos if the Commission was monitoring the way Cyprus spends the funds it received to handle migration and refugee flows.
On this same topic, voting on a question about whether they thought that Europe was becoming a fortress as regards to migration, 41% said they did. On another vote, 83% said that the EU should have a stronger role in the area of security.
The discussion also touched upon other topics such as the European elections, with Commissioner Avramopoulos remarking that two schools of thought will clash, those who want a strong Europe and those who challenge and undermine Europe.
Finally, when asked via a Sli.do question what the EU meant to them, participants mentioned “opportunity”, “democracy”, “unity” and “safety” as the most recurrent answers.