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Portugal seeks “goodwill coalition” to move forward with Pact on Migration and Asylum

05 Feb · 19h50

Eduardo Cabrita, Minister for Home Affairs © Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU 2021

The Minister for Home Affairs, Eduardo Cabrita, said today that he believes in a “goodwill coalition between the countries committed to European values”, which will allow the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union to make significant strides in terms of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

During an online conference organised by the Migration Policy Institute and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on the topic of “A route to follow for Migration under the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union”, Eduardo Cabrita explained that it is Portugal's intention to bring the positions held by different countries closer together in order to achieve a principle of “flexible compulsory solidarity” to respond to the challenges faced by Europe when it comes to migration.

“ This is a political challenge and it is technically very difficult. But I'm from the same country as the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, and the Director-General of the IOM, António Vitorino. And they are certainly an inspiration for this difficult job ”

Eduardo Cabrita, Portuguese Minister for Home Affairs

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is a think tank based in the United States of America and with a delegation in Europe that encourages research and debate with the aim of fostering better immigration and integration policies. Also taking part in the conference were Monique Pariat, European Commission Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs, Ulrich Weinbrenner, German General Director for Migration, Refugees and Return Policy, and Hanne Beirens, Director of MPI Europe.

The lessons learned from the work of the German Presidency on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum and Portugal's priorities for following up on this were the starting point for the debate.

Eduardo Cabrita underlined the fact that “presenting this enormous legislative package on asylum and migration was an act of political courage and we acknowledge the very hard work done by the German Presidency”.

The Minister for Home Affairs explained that Portugal will be following up on this work, in conjunction with the other Member States, in three dimensions:

  • The external dimension of migratory policies, based on the principle that migration is a common challenge for Europe that should include dialogue with third countries of origin and transit, reinforcing cooperation for development, the prevention of hazardous journeys and irregular crossings, and investment in legal migration routes.
  • Controls on the external borders of the European Union, particularly through Frontex, which implies the reinforcement of human, financial and technological resources.
  • The balance between the principles of responsibility and solidarity, in all Member States, in order to respond to migratory challenges.

“ We must take a transversal approach to the challenge of migration, because the reality we are living in now is different from the reality in 2015, when Europe was not prepared for the crisis that emerged ”

Eduardo Cabrita, Portuguese Minister for Home Affairs

“We must offer people a pathway of hope, in a Europe that is ageing. This means that we must deal firmly with human trafficking, but we must also open the door to legal migration agreements”, Eduardo Cabrita emphasised, highlighting the importance of cooperation with Africa and referring to the ministerial meeting between EU countries and African countries on the management of migration flows, to be held next May.

Regarding the pillar of responsibility shared between different countries, Eduardo Cabrita argued that “solidarity cannot be a meaningless word, it cannot be optional”. Therefore, the Portuguese Presidency will attempt to come up with a “series of ways of showing this flexible solidarity”.

“We are gathering the bricks we need to build this concept”, he concluded.