Three years after the migration and security agendas: where does the public sector stand?

From 20 to 22 September 2018 took place in Bucharest / Romania a seminar about “Three years after the migration and security agendas: where does the public sector stand?”, organized by EUROFEDOP (Europese Federatie van het Overheidspersoneel) with the support of EZA and of the European Union.

Terrorist attacks had cost the lives of many innocent people in several European countries and armed conflicts together with the absence of any prospect for a decent living had made hundreds of thousands of people from Asia and Africa decide to flee their home country and look for a better life on the European continent.

In order to cope with the situation which became dramatic in 2015, the European Union understood that it had to give new impetus to its policies of migration and security and published to this end its European agenda on migration and European agenda on security, respectively in May and April 2015.

The European federation of employees of public services (Eurofedop) wishes to point to the central role played by the staff of public services with the implementation of any policy of migration and security in any European country and organised with this aim a seminar to learn more about the way in which these issues are dealt with in the different European countries where Eurofedop has member organisations.

Many trade union delegates of member organisations were thus given the opportunity to report on their national situation. Apart from the first-line information provided by its member organisations, Eurofedop had invited experts from European institutions, employers federations, regional authorities and the civil society who contributed to clarifying the subjects at stake with problems of migration and security as they are occurring today on the European continent.

Definitions were given of what is meant by the Dublin regulation, the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System and Eurodac. Moreover, the mission of European institutions such as Europol and Eurojust as well as the tasks of Frontex as European Border and Coast Guard Agency were explained.

In conclusion, the severity of the situation was recognised by all. Migration and asylum are human rights issues and everybody has the right to live a life in decency. Solidarity and responsibility were the key notions connected with problems related to migration. Apart from terrorism and cross-border criminality, the need for fighting cybercrime and securing the Internet was recognised as one of the greatest challenges of today’s security services on the European continent and beyond. Emphasis was put on international cooperation as an indispensable requirement in the fight against cybercrime.

The dedication of employees of public services in providing care to migrants and ensuring security in our society was underlined, but on the other hand, caution was expressed with regard to the excessive workload which may be created when the number of public service employees does not correspond with the tasks which they are asked to fulfil.

Final considerations

It is the policy of the European Union to find a common policy and strategy to deal with matters of migration and security. A relocation system was worked out when massive numbers of migrants arrived at the EU’s external borders (mainly in Greece and Italy) and all countries agreed with this system, but in practice, the system never functioned as it should.

We recognised that migration and asylum are human rights issues and underlined that references to the questions of migration and refugees can be found in the Treaties. Article 19 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights stipulates that no one can be sent back to a State where there is a risk that the person concerned may be subjected to torture, inhuman treatment or the death penalty. The Council of Europe rings the alarm bell when the question of migration is concerned. It underlines that irregular migration is not a criminal act and that irregular migrants have rights under international law, which need to be respected. In the course of the seminar, we have invited our members to explain how these issues are dealt with in their respective countries and learned that, often, the care for migrants and all services related with this, make the workload increase but this is not compensated by a corresponding increase in the number of civil servants employed to accomplish these tasks. President Juncker made the link between the migration crisis and the need for economic investment in the African continent. This will not exclude but reduce the number of migrants wanting to enter the European Union.

At the end of our seminar, we listened to speakers explaining to us the great challenges which terrorism and cybercrime impose on our security services. They made it clear that, in order to win the fight against terrorism and cybercrime, highly qualified personnel will be required and international cooperation will be essential.