“Fake news” harbour doubts about the situation of migrants in Europe, said Avramopoulos.
Rabat – Europe’s migration crisis is over, the EU’s Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Wednesday. He predicted that “misinformation, untruths and fake news” could dominate the campaign for the upcoming European elections in May.
“The times of crisis, when hundreds of thousands of people were coming by sea to Italy and Greece are behind us,” Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters. Migration to the EU has returned to more moderate levels not seen since 2013, he added.
However, he acknowledged that migration is still at the top of the political agenda and will be a high profile issue in many election campaigns across Europe in the run-up to the European elections.
Speaking about migration to the EU, Avramopoulos said, “Misinformation, untruths, and fake news” make it “hard to know what is actually going on.”
The number of asylum applications in the EU dropped to 634,700 in 2018, down by 10 percent compared to 2017, according to European Asylum Support Office data published in February.
Asylum applications peaked at the height of the crisis with 1.4 million in 2015 and 1.3 million in 2016.
Yet, despite falling levels of migration, people still perceive high levels. Forty percent of Europeans consider immigration to be a main problem facing the EU, according to Eurobarometer.
While a planned reform of the EU’s asylum policy has been at a standstill for a year, the EU has sought new partnerships with North African countries on the model of the migrant control agreement it made with Turkey in 2015. Avramopoulos praised Morocco in particular.
“It is clear that we need to strengthen our relationship with Morocco,” said Avramopoulos. He called on the EU to develop a closer and more ambitious partnership with Morocco. The EU and Morocco last autumn agreed on a €140 million program to strengthen border security in Morocco.
The next elections to the European Parliament are scheduled to take place between May 23 and 26.
Since 1979, the majority of seats in the European Parliament have gone to either the Christian-Democrats/Conservatives or the Socialists/Social Democrats.
The center-right group of the European People’s Party is likely to remain the dominant political force in the European Parliament, according to Politico. However, populist parties made strong representations during the last elections and the next European Parliament might well reflect this trend.