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New York, 19 September 2016
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There is one word that we have abused, in Europe, when talking about migration and refugees: the word is “crisis”. Yes, it is true that we have faced the greatest flow of refugees since World War II. But the issue of human mobility goes well beyond what we experienced in Europe. And we know very well that there are more refugees and migrants moving within Africa and within Asia than those coming towards Europe.
We live in a world of seven billion people, with dramatic demographic imbalances, where inequalities are growing, where climate change is reshaping the land and the borders of human civilisations. So it is up to us to build a new system for human mobility; human mobility has always existed in human history. But today the challenge is at a different scale.
We need to build a system for human mobility. A system where people can move safely, legally, voluntarily, in the full respect of their human rights and in a sustainable way.
This work has already started. It took a while, let me be frank, before Europe accepted its responsibilities, but we are finally doing so. Since 2015 our vessels have saved in the Mediterranean more than 400,000 people. Operation Sophia – an EU operation - is disrupting the traffickers’ networks and has brought tens of smugglers to justice. In Turkey, in Lebanon, in Jordan – we are helping over half a million Syrian children go back to school. The protection of the most vulnerable – the children, the women – is at the core of our action, in each and every initiative we take, and through specific Regional Development and Protection Programmes.
Faced we so much human suffering, we needed a fast response to save lives and to response to the needs of an unprecedented number of refugees. But we know there is no quick fix to the issue of migration.
The answer has to look at the long term. And most of all, the only answer we can find is the one we can find together.
Let me say that there are forces in Europe, also here in the United States, around the world, who believe that migration is a fight between the North and the South, the richer countries and the developing ones. We do not believe in this. We, in the European Union, believe in partnerships.
We believe we are together in this and that only together we can give real answers. There is no clash between the North and the South. In fact there is massive room for win-win solutions,
And win-win solutions cannot be imposed by one side on the other. They can only be agreed together. This is why we need a Global Compact. And in this field, our European Union is testing new tools and a whole new approach, finally. This is the core idea behind our new Partnership Frameworks of Migration Compacts as we have called them. From security to infrastructures, our priorities are set together with each of our partners, be them countries of origin or transit. And by the way we are seeing more and more that countries of origin, transit, and destination are the same countries.
But we are also mobilising new players to support the same common objectives. Just a few hours ago I presented a European External Investment Plan to bring more private investments into fragile areas of our neighbourhood and Africa. It is going to mobilise up to €44 billion euros, up to USD 50 billion to bring private investments in Africa and in the Mediterranean. All the projects that we will support will be coherent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on jobs, on sustainable infrastructure, on inclusive growth.
I know well that Europe’s response to the issue of refugees and migrants hasn’t always been perfect or consistent. I said this myself last year at the last UN General Assembly. But I believe our experience, particularly dramatic in these months, now our new approach especially in the external side of our work with partners, can flow into the new Global Compact we are shaping. The Compact should draw on the existing knowledge of UN agencies, in particular those based in Geneva, but also on the insights coming from the private sector, civil society, diaspora communities and migrants organisations. And this process should go hand in hand with the integration of the IOM [International Organisation for Migration], which we regard the global lead organisation for migration into the UN system.
The new Compact has to respect the centrality of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. It has to champion the new development paradigm enshrined in the Agenda 2030. It must be a Compact for partnership and for shared responsibility globally. You can count on us, on the European Union to continue to work together for the success of this process, and to finally move towards a global governance of human mobility. Thank you.
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