Speech delivered by Commissioner Stylianides on behalf of HR/VP Mogherini, during the EP Debate on the Global Compact on Migration, 13 November 2018

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Thank you Madame Chair, dear Minister, dear colleagues,

I welcome this opportunity to join you today to discuss the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, in particular as we approach the final stage of the process - its adoption.

In our globalised world, human mobility can only be addressed effectively by the international community as a whole. It is a global phenomenon that requires global solutions. No country can manage this alone, but together we can set up a humane, dignified and secure mechanism for governing human mobility.

This is why the Commission strongly supports the Global Compacts and will be actively engaging in their follow up.

Over the past years, the EU has built a comprehensive approach to address migration and forced displacement. Our approach has proved to be the right one and delivers results. All this was possible thanks to our common work inside the European Union, and to strong cooperation with our partners, in our region and also worldwide.

Our approach is based on solidarity, shared responsibility, multilateralism and engagement. And this is exactly what the UN Global Compact for Migration is about, as is the UN Compact on Refugees.

The Migration Compact is the result of two years of intensive consultations and negotiations at the UN level, involving governments and other actors. It is the first ever agreement at international level on migration. The commitment to work together to improve cooperation on international migration in order to make it safe, orderly and regular.

We all know that the text is not perfect. I think, as you know, imperfect is the enemy of the good.

As in any international negotiations, EU Member States had to make compromises with States from other regions in the world that have a different perspective on migration.

But overall, we have good reasons to be satisfied with the Global compact on migration.

The final text of the GCM [Global Compact on Migration] contains many actions that will help us to improve the situation for migrants, to reduce irregular migration, address the drivers of migration, fight trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling, and manage borders and facilitate return and readmission.

Several misconceptions on the Compacts have been floating around. I think we need to address them:

First, the Compact is not legally binding. It will not create any legal obligations for States. It is a menu of policy actions and best practices, from which States may draw to implement their national migration policies. More than that, it is fully in line with the principle of national sovereignty and fully respects the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policies.

Second, the Compact does not encourage migration nor does it discourage it, what it aims at is that migration takes place in a safe and orderly manner. It contains no language to promote a “human right to migrate”, but it stresses the need to protect migrant’s human rights. Migration has been part of the human experience throughout history. It is our task to make it work for all.

The Compact as an international cooperative framework, will usefully underpin our existing work with third countries and international organisations such as IOM [International Organisation for Migration] and UNHCR [UN Refugee Agency]. It will also serve as a platform for new partnerships.

Europe is already at the forefront of migration and has a developed migration policy with high standards for migrants and refugees. The Compacts will allow promoting the same standards outside the Union borders thus improving international cooperation on migration in all its aspects.

It will help to jointly turn migration from a European and national challenge into a shared one, and into an opportunity for human development, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We all supported the UN initiative to hold a high level meeting on migration at the 2016 UNGA [United Nations General Assembly Ministerial Week]. The unanimously adopted New York Declaration launched the work on the two Global Compacts, on refugees and on migration.

The EU took an early lead in the discussions on the Global Migration Compact and participated actively in the preparatory work.

Our delegation in New York has been working closely with Member States in order to ensure that the EU priorities were reflected in the final text. We have done so, together with the 27 Member States that have been actively negotiating and speaking with one voice.

This has allowed us to bring forward a Global Migration Compact that largely reflects European objectives and respects our key concerns.

We therefore regret the decision by some EU Member States not to support the Global Compact on Migration. It is their national decision, which does not affect the position of the Commission.

The Commission will continue our work to improve migration management worldwide. This is what the EU acquis on migration and development leads to. We will notably continue our engagement with the IOM, who will lead on the implementation and follow-up of the Compact, which will entail sharing experiences, helping countries to overcome shortcomings and searching for solutions to a global issue. We will also continue to support partnerships at bilateral, regional and global level in the area of migration. With our partners in the world, the Migration Compact will be an important basis for cooperation along what has been agreed as the common EU approach to migration.

Here our common work and your contribution as European Parliament will be essential, dear colleagues.

Thank you so much for your attention.

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Closing remarks

Mr President this has been a very useful exchange and I thank my dear colleagues for their interventions.

I take this opportunity, Presidents, to say something very concrete. From this debate, I conclude that we all share a common interest in finding common solutions to global challenges such as migration. And the Global Compact is the definition of the common solution. Because it is a global response, it is a global solution.

I think the Global Compact will help us manage human mobility in a much more orderly and effective way.

And in particular for Europe, because for us, as Europeans, the problem of migration is so important, because all neighbours around us want to come to Europe. So this is the best way, this is the best instrument in order to deal with the mobility and to have a good argument to advocate for a global solution. This is my strong conviction.

May I close by signalling once again my appreciation of the European Parliament's role in keeping this important issue on the agenda. I think it is not necessary to repeat my arguments from my first intervention.

Thank you so much.

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