Committee examine European responses to irregular migration

21 January 2019

In recent years Europe has experienced an influx of irregular migrants greater than at any time since the Second World War. The roots of this run deep, from population growth and climate change in sub-Saharan Africa to chronic conflicts as far afield as Sudan and Afghanistan. The routes used by irregular migrants—and the traffickers that are exploiting them—are equally widespread and difficult to police.

Purpose of the inquiry

While the consequences of this influx of irregular migrants have been felt across Europe, a collective response has proved elusive, as shown by some European countries’ opposition to the UN Global Compact for Migration. In the light of this failure at the multinational level, this inquiry will explore what the UK is doing at the bilateral level with European partners. It will focus primarily on what the UK, France and Italy are doing to police migration routes and to address the root causes of largescale displacement.

On the operational level numerous Government departments and agencies are involved with the UK’s response to this issue. Our focus is on the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Send in your views

The Committee welcomes written submissions on some or all of the following topics:

  • Is the FCO setting the strategic direction of the UK’s response to largescale displacement and irregular migration, or are other departments more influential in driving the Government’s policies?  As regards monitoring the implementation of policy, does the FCO take the lead?
  • What impact has the influx of irregular migrants had on France’s and Italy’s domestic and foreign policies and what are the implications for the UK’s relationships with them?
  • What are France and Italy doing in North Africa, the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa to reduce the level of irregular migration across the Mediterranean?
  • What is the UK doing with France in North Africa and the Sahel to address the root causes of irregular migration to Europe? How effective are these joint operations and what more can be done?
  • What is the UK doing to support Italy in the Mediterranean? Does the FCO understand the positions of Italy’s coalition government? What is it doing and what more can it do to influence these positions?
  • What is the UK doing to support France’s and Italy’s diplomatic efforts to stabilise Libya – crucial to stemming the flow of people across the Mediterranean?
  • The UK depends on France and Italy to register asylum seekers before they reach the Channel. What is the FCO doing on the diplomatic front to ensure that this happens?
  • To what extent does the UK co-operate with EU mechanisms and other EU Member States (e.g., Greece, Malta, Spain) in an effort to address irregular migration in the Mediterranean? 
  • Is Brexit expected to affect current co-operation and engagement? If so, how will any gaps be plugged?
  • How does the UK ensure it complies with current international legal obligations as regards its migrant policies and its co-operation with EU Member States on irregular migration in the Mediterranean? To what extent, and how, does it factor in the protection of migrants’ welfare in such policies and co-operation, including in connection with migrants in Libya?

Send a written submission to the inquiry on Finding a diplomatic route: European responses to irregular migration.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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