Ministerial Synod on immigration: The 7 points of the joint statement

A reassessment of the situation in Syria was agreed

Screenshot 4 10 exclusive, IMMIGRATION, Ministerial Meeting

On the occasion of the Ministerial Summit held in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 16-17 May 2024, the participating Member States, namely Austria, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Malta and Poland, reaffirm their mutual commitment to strengthening joint efforts to address the challenges arising from irregular migration. We therefore agreed on the following points, as part of a realistic and sustainable approach to the external dimension of the Union's migration policy, with a particular focus on Syria and overall dynamics:

– The recent adoption of the Pact on Migration and Asylum undoubtedly marks the beginning of an effort to achieve a common European response to the challenges of migration and asylum. However, the effectiveness of our migration policies depends to a significant extent on the decisions and actions taken in the context of the external dimension of migration. The reform of EU migration and asylum policy must therefore continue with a greater emphasis on the external dimension of migration.

– Irregular immigration, human trafficking, instrumentalization and hybrid threats against the Union, including those caused by foreign Governments, cannot be tolerated. We are entrusted with safeguarding and preserving the principles of our Union, including respect for the fundamental values ​​of life, international law and international humanitarian law. Decisions about who has the right to cross a member state's borders should be made by the government of the state itself, not by criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking. The tragic loss of life at sea must end and, at the same time, human trafficking and trafficking networks must be dismantled and those responsible brought to justice.

– We reaffirm the need to intensify our joint efforts in relation to the external dimension of migration and to identify and pursue realistic actions, following the Conclusions of the Extraordinary European Council Meeting of 9 February 2023. The recent regional geopolitical developments are an additional reason for finding constructive ways to address the challenges before us. We recognize the burden shouldered by friendly third countries, which have received a large number of displaced persons due to their geographical location, as well as their important role as the last bastion before migrants arrive irregularly in the Union. We emphasize the need to provide support to them in order to strengthen their capabilities, including through equipment, training and other forms of cooperation, to strengthen their efforts to deal with irregular migration flows and provide protection.

– We strongly believe that existing cooperation and capacity-building with Lebanon must continue and EU support must be further extended to limit the risk of even greater flows from Lebanon to the EU. We therefore welcome the recent announcement by the President of the Commission, after her visit to Lebanon, which is a first immediate step in the right direction.

– In this context, the case of Syria comes to the fore and we must take into account the ongoing situation in the country. We fully accept the necessity to offer support to those in need, in accordance with our obligations under International Law. It is indisputable that, when the war broke out in 2011 and in the following years of harsh military actions, the Syrian population fleeing abroad was rightfully granted international protection, in accordance with the applicable rules of International Law. However, since then many circumstances have changed and, 13 years later, while it is recognized that full political stability has not been achieved, the situation in Syria has evolved significantly.

– In light of the above, the participating Member States agreed on the need to reassess the situation, taking into account the dynamics developing in and around Syria, with the aim of exploring an adapted approach that would include more effective ways of managing the issue, on the basis of the relevant European Council Conclusions of 17 April, which reaffirm the need to achieve conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified returns of Syrian refugees, as defined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). To this end, the discussion at today's Summit constitutes an important step forward in the ongoing assessment of the situation in Syria and may lead to a wider discussion on case management and decision-making practice regarding the provision of international protection to persons arriving from Syria.

– The participating Member States declare their commitment to continue working in this direction in the immediate future, with full respect for International and European Law.