The migration crisis is a complex one.
On one hand people say we should throw the doors open to everyone who wants to come here. On the other hand, some people say we should stop anyone coming to Britain or Europe.
Yet everyday we are being faced with the reality that more and more people are leaving their homes and looking for a new life.
It’s for all manner of reasons. Some are escaping war, some are simply hoping for somewhere with better opportunities. Whatever their reason, for many the wish to travel is so high that they are taking incredible risks at the cost of far too many lives.
So, what do we do?
Last week at the European Parliament I outlined my and the ECR group’s philosophy and position on the migrant crisis.
We must help those in need, we must take in genuine refugees but we must do it with a cool head. If we don`t, if we make rash decisions, we will inevitably make the situation a lot, lot worse.
We must also take action. Plans are worthless if they are not enacted.
“The migration crisis might not be top story on every news bulletin but it has not gone away and it’s not going away any time soon.
“It’s time to get away from the well-rehearsed arguments of whether you are pro-European or anti-European. Get away from arguments between those who want to do nothing and those who think we can do everything.
“Instead of a stop, start approach, let’s be clear about what we need to stop doing and what we need to start doing.
“Stop sending out a signal that anyone is welcome, start focusing on helping those genuinely seeking refuge. Stop driving refugees into the arms of the traffickers, start helping people nearer their homes. Stop individual countries opening their borders to all one day, forcing others to close theirs. Start being clear about what each country can do and are doing to help.
“We need to face the reality now. This is not just a migration crisis. This is not just a refugee crisis. This is in danger of becoming a geopolitical crisis. In Syria, a proxy conflict is unfolding. Russia doing all it can to destabilise the EU’s borders; to focus our attention away from the Ukraine. The Balkans also in danger of destabilising.
“So against this backdrop, we’ve had the Commission 10 point plan, we have the European Council road map, and now we have the 17 point plan from Sunday’s summit. But all these plans are no substitute for action.
“So, to solve this crisis, we first have to stabilise it. Accepting only the most vulnerable genuine refugees from the camps, as identified by the UNHCR. Returning those seeking to bypass that system to the camps.
“But, even with such a system in place we will have to take some refugees into our countries. We have a moral obligation, yet some countries are doing far more than others. Some countries are struggling to cope. Some countries are donating huge sums. Some are paying huge bucks, others are passing the buck. So all countries need to understand the scale of this situation and help with coordinated action.
“And when I say all countries. I do not mean just all EU countries. I mean all countries.
“So while we should acknowledge and support the contribution of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. We should also be asking, when will the richer Arab countries and the USA step up?
“Closer to home, EU frontline states & the Balkans need to be helped. Borders need to be strengthened. Money and resources need to go into processing and returns.
“We need to be fair but firm. Helping refugees closer to their homes. Welcoming some to our countries. But telling economic migrants to apply through existing legal migration channels and not to jump the queue over those who have applied legally
“Let’s uphold these principles to save lives rather than encourage people to risks their lives.
“Our grandparents confronted the problems of their generation who had fought two world wars. They allowed our generation to enjoy a longer period of sustained peace and prosperity that any generation ever before. Never take that for granted, for now our world is changing. Shifting power west to east. Wars on our doorstep and terrorism at home. Living longer but reproducing less. These new challenges will need new solutions.
“History has taught us that to face the really big challenges we need to work together as allies, and stand up to those who seek to dictate to us. Our grandparents had the vision to meet the challenges of their times. Our children will face a whole different new set of challenges, so now it’s our turn, our turn to do something for our children and grandchildren. Face today’s challenges to build a better future new challenges, or retreat to the past?
“Let’s stop sending false hope to the millions thinking of coming here that they all have a future in the EU. Let’s move on from roadmaps and action plans and get on with helping those in need.
“Let’s stop pointing fingers and setting quotas, and start delivering for everyone’s sake, for the citizens of our countries and the future stability of this continent.”
Below you will find my speech to the European Parliament.
To watch it, PRESS PLAY on the video below, or to read a transcript just keep reading down the page.