Macron urges EU to step up deportation of illegal immigrants

Macron urges EU to step up deportation of illegal immigrants

18/09/18 - 15:21 - FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron has called on European countries to step up the deportation of illegal immigrants who are “not destined” to be granted asylum in a concerted effort to relieve pressure on frontline and host states.

The French centrist has faced criticism for his hardline stance on immigration, despite his repeated pledge to be both firm and fair with those seeking asylum in France.

Mr Macron, during a joint press conference with Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Paris, said: “We need more control over migrant arrivals, but this will only be possible if we boost [Europe’s] border protection agency Frontex and strengthen cooperation and dialogue with countries of origin and transit.”

A common policy designed to encourage the speedy deportation of illegal, economic migrants who are “not destined to become asylum seekers” should however be carried out in line with “European values,” the 40-year-old centrist added.

Mr Macron said, like Mr Kurz, he would back efforts to secure the bloc’s external borders in a bid to deter illegal migration and migrant smuggling into Europe.

Mr Kurz said he stood behind the EU’s plan to send 10,000 more Frontex border guards to the bloc’s borders by 2020, before calling on all European countries to show more solidarity with frontline states like Italy and Greece.

Europe has faced a migrant crisis since 2015 following civil wars in Libya and Syria, and more than 1 million people from Africa and the Middle East have since tried to reach the bloc by land or by sea.

Illegal immigration had fixated European public opinion in the last few years, fuelling the rise of far-right, populist parties such as Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement national and Matteo Salvini’s League.

France’s young leader, who has been bitterly criticised by left-wing voters and opponents for adopting a tougher stance on immigration since his election, pledged to be both firm and fair on immigration as he approved a controversial bill to tighten the country’s asylum rules earlier this year.

The centrist government has repeatedly said that the new law, which officially passed on August 1, is designed to “guarantee the right to asylum and better handle migratory flows”.

While the new law enables the “systematic” deportation of economic migrants, it has also slashed processing times for asylum requests and boosted refugee aid.

European leaders will discuss migration again at a summit in Salzburg, Austria, on September 19-20.

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