Thursday, March 10, 2016

EU asylum system must be replaced - Swedish PM

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Wednesday called for a common asylum system in the European Union (EU).

Addressing the European Parliament (EP) plenary here, Lofven defended his country's reintroduction of passport checks at the border with its Schengen area neighbor Denmark.

He added that the Dublin Regulation, under which asylum seekers must apply in the first EU country they enter, "is not working and must be replaced."

"During a two-month period last autumn, Sweden took in 80,000 people. This brought our reception system to the brink of collapse and, in the absence of working European solutions, it forced us to take unilateral action," said Lofven.

He said the Schengen agreement and the free movement it creates was a mainstay of the EU, and crucial for its economies. However, if EU states did not act fast to manage the migrant crisis, there was a risk of losing the entire system.

"I see a lot of words and plans to move forward, but far too little action," he told members of European Parliament (MEPs). "I urge all member states to take their responsibility. We must move from chaos to control, otherwise we risk the future of European cooperation as we know it."

Lofven added that if the EU could not create a new, common and sustainable asylum system, more countries would be forced to act unilaterally, which would hurt mobility, trade, "and most of all the human beings who are fleeing," he continued.

"Sweden will work for a new asylum system in the EU that is based on equal distribution, and in which asylum is sought in the EU -- not in an individual country. Quite simply, if we are to share an external border and have free movement between our countries, we must also share a system of asylum reception," Lofven said.

"I cannot see how countries that do not participate in the common asylum system can participate in Schengen cooperation," he said.

Lofven called on the EU to build "a social Europe" on the basis of greater equality and better living conditions for all its citizens, "because when people and enterprises are strengthened, economies grow."

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