European Leaders put a shocking €20,000 price on the lives of racialised migrants
Brussels, Belgium – 20 June 2023
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) strongly condemns the new Pact on Migration and Asylum recently agreed upon by the Council of the European Union under the Swedish Presidency. While hailed as a triumph of collaboration by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, this agreement exposes a disturbing truth: solidarity within the European Union (EU) is now deemed flexible and available for a price tag.
While EU member states assert that the pact is not intended to exclude racialised communities from Europe but rather to address irregular migration, it fails to provide accessible regular pathways for all migrants. Persons belonging to racialised communities and formerly colonised countries frequently encounter significant obstacles in obtaining permits and legal pathways, thereby compelling them to seek alternative, often irregular, routes. Consequently, despite the absence of explicit references to race, ethnicity, or national origin, the new border management rules are disproportionately impacting these racialised groups.
“Less than a week after EU member states agreed on this new deal, a boat carrying about 750 migrants capsized near the coast of Pylos, Greece. However, we must be reminded that is not an unexpected tragedy. This is a direct consequence of Europe’s border policies and disregard for the lives of asylum seekers and migrants. There needs to be a serious investigation into the roles of Frontex and Greek authorities in this tragedy,” shared Emmanuel Achiri, ENAR Policy and Advocacy Advisor on Migration.
This plan sharply contrasts the dignified and united response of EU member states to the displacement of Ukrainian refugees. Regrettably, the new agreement aims to diminish protection standards for racialised people on the move within Europe. According to the Commission’s own data, the majority of first-time asylum applicants in 2022 were from Asia (30%), Africa (21%), and the Middle East (20%). This double standard is striking and perpetuates the discriminatory approach that differentiates between Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian refugees seeking safety from the violence in Ukraine.
To exacerbate matters further, instead of fostering a solidarity mechanism based on respect for human rights and dignity, this agreement incentivises member states to relinquish their responsibility to relocate migrants in exchange for a meager sum of €20,000. This so-called “mandatory solidarity,” celebrated as a milestone, reduces solidarity to a commodity. In essence, the worth assigned to the life and dignity of a migrant from a racialised background is reduced to a monetary value. Such a proposition not only flagrantly disregards international and European norms of protection and human rights law but also mirrors a practice reminiscent of medieval Europe. Today, these actions find no place within a Europe that prides itself on being a community founded on inclusivity and respect for human rights.
“Despite the rhetoric on inclusion and respect for human rights from European leaders, this new plan betrays the spirit of the EU Action Plan Against Racism. It fails to recognise the intersectionality of racism and the specific vulnerability of migrants and refugees, neglecting the rising xenophobia and racism directed toward this group,” stated Ojeaku Nwabuzo, Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Network Development at ENAR. “At its worst, this pact reinforces the racialisation of migration and sends a global message that the life and dignity of racialised peoples, both within and at the borders of Europe, are valued at a mere €20,000.”
ENAR calls upon the European Union to reevaluate this agreement and uphold its commitment to human rights, solidarity, and inclusive values. The EU must ensure that the rights and well-being of all migrants and refugees, irrespective of their racial or ethnic background, are protected and respected.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Nabil Sanaullah, ENAR Communications and Press Manager
Notes to editors:
- The European Network Against Racism (ENAR aisbl) stands against racism and discrimination and advocates equality and solidarity for all in Europe. We connect local and national anti-racist NGOs throughout Europe and voice the concerns of ethnic and religious minorities in European and national policy debates.
- ENAR has published a detailed policy briefing entitled ‘The New EU (European Union) Pact on Migration: Racializing Migration to and in Europe’ available here.