New European Union commission portfolio to target migration into EU
A new commissioner for “Protecting Our European Way of Life” (EU) has been nominated by the newly elected EU President Ursala von der Leyen who will replace Jean-Claude Juncker from 1st November. The move seen as an attempt to promote right-wing rhetoric against migrants and migration into the European Union has been described as “grotesque” by a Dutch MEP, and “worrying” by Amnesty International.
A Controversial Greek former MEP, Margaritis Schinas, who is the current European Commission spokesman and a member of Greece's governing centre-right party, New Democracy has been nominated for the new portfolio. In her nomination letter to Mr Schinas, Ursala con der Leyen said “the European way of life is built around solidarity, peace of mind and security”, according to BBC News. “"We must address and allay legitimate fears and concerns about the impact of irregular migration on our economy and society," Mrs von der Leyen was quoted as saying.
Mrs von der Leyen, who was Germany's former defence minister has come under criticism for creating the “fake portfolio” specifically created to target and curb the flow of immigrants into the European Union. Migration into the EU has been a key political battleground in many of the European states with some right-wing and nationalist groups making strong electoral gains by pledging to curb the flow of migration into the bloc in their election manifestos.
It is estimated that about nine thousand Gambians have arrived in Europe in 2017, same year Gambia installed a new president following the defeat of former president Yahya Jammeh. The move by the new EU President will be seen as deterring migrants from coming to the EU. The European Union has in the past implemented migration policies aimed to discourage would be migrants into Europe. Instead, funding was provided to support projects in Africa with a view to creating jobs and skills to young people to say in their own countries.
According to IOM, 11 million euros in funding from the EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, a four-year project to deter migration into Europe through vocational skills training was launched to encourage youths to stay at home instead of venturing on the dangerous journey to Europe through the "back way". While jobs and skills creation programmes may only yield results after many years, it was suggested that work on increasing voluntary returns and re-admissions of Gambian migrants stuck in transit to Europe through irregular means could have “an immediate impact on reducing migration to Europe”.
Convincing migrants already en route to Europe to return home was the focus of IOM regional project covering 14 countries with funding from the EU Emergency Trust Fund. According to IOM, this is the first of its kind run by IOM which includes a 3.9-million-euro programme targeting Gambian migrants.
It remains to be seen if the new EU hierarchy's stance on migration by creating a “Protecting Our European Way of Life” portfolio in the commission will clamp down on migration to the EU.