Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, chairman of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), supports migration. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS


Migrants are ‘no threat to EU’, says European Parliament home affairs committee chair


Juan Fernando López Aguilar MEP, the chair of the European Parliament’s home affairs committee, is positive about the possible effects of ongoing mass-migration to the European Union.

In interview with the Parliament’s official media channel on March 25, he said migrants “were no threat” and that they could help to “‘re-green” European demographics, sustain the European economic structure and finance European social services.

López Aguilar is a member of the Parliament’s Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group.

Acknowledging what he called inherent difficulties of the multilateral nature of the recently agreed EU Migration Pact, with 27 Member States having differing priorities and interests, he insisted that migration should not be seen as a threat but as a fact that requires a joint approach by all EU countries.

Although the Pact was “a step forward,” according to López Aguilar, “it will not be the end of the story”.

The EU still needs to complete the ratification of new regulations to enhance the administration of migration and asylum, he noted.

“There will be some other pending issues which are not included in the package and are extremely relevant,” he said. Those included enforcing laws against human-trafficking and people-smugglers’ business models, as well as creating a European framework for search-and-rescue operations.

The Spaniard also said the EU would have to negotiate “with diplomatic strength” about “dignified re-admission agreements” to countries of migrant origin and transit.

López Aguilar added that “legal pathways” to acquire citizenship in Europe were “absolutely essential” for all other measures to be successful.

“If not, trafficking and human-smuggling will be big business.”

He said that “migration is not a crisis” and it was “stupid” to think European countries could stop it. “It will never happen,” López Aguilar insisted.

“Migration has always existed and it will always exist. But now, in a global world, we need global actors to deal with facts.”

He said nation-states were not up to the job individually and systems operating on the European scale were required.

He warned about declining population levels in Europe, which he said was leading to the continent “shrinking in every possible way”.

He said he regarded migrants not as a threat but as a solution to improve the economy and enforce social security.

Asked about sceptics who fear a potential increase in crime and violence, López Aguilar said he was “a fighter against that kind of demagogy”.

“Migration and asylum-related issues is a field in which, very expressively, facts and impressions do not match.

“It is not true that migrants are the root cause of crime across Europe. It’s not true that when you have migrants, public safety [suffers] or that insecurity is fuelled by migrants.”

He added that the media needed to be involved to correct such ill-founded perceptions, as were fact-finding efforts, enlightened policymaking and better education about the issues involved.

Regarding the EU border and coast-guard organisation Frontex, which is accused of perpetrating so-called migrant pushbacks, López Aguilar said the agency had become “giant and expensive” and noted that the former head was the target of an official investigation.

He said he hoped the new chief Hans Leijtens, appointed last March, would improve the agency’s operations.

López Aguilar pointed out that Parliament will monitor Frontex closely to ensure its work remained within its mandate and fully respected human rights.