So long as we leave some of our partners submerged under massive arrivals, without helping them manage their borders; so long as our asylum procedures remain slow and disparate; so long as we are incapable of collectively organizing the return of migrants not eligible for asylum, we will lack both effectiveness and humanity.
In the coming years, Europe will have to accept that its major challenge lies there. And we have only one choice, one alternative: closing in behind our borders, which would be both illusory and ineffective, or the construction of a common area for borders, asylum and migration.
That is why, in the coming year, I would like to see the adoption of the various texts that are being discussed for the reform of our migration policy. I would like a genuine European asylum office to be created that will speed up and harmonize our procedures. I would like us to at last have interconnected databases and secure biometric identification documents, for in France we currently process tens of thousands of asylum applications that our European partners have already refused. I would like a European border police force to gradually be put in place, to ensure rigorous management of borders across Europe and the return of those who cannot stay. And I would like us to finance — in solidarity — a largescale programme to train and integrate refugees, for it is our common duty as Europeans to find a place for refugees who have risked their lives, at home and on their way, and we must not forget that.
But we need to do that without leaving the burden to the few, be they countries of first entry or final host countries, by building the terms for genuine, chosen, organized and concerted solidarity. And it is through this foundation and common area that I propose to achieve that.
This solidarity and care for effectiveness begins with the work of each of us. That is why, in France, I have launched a vast reform to better handle refugees; increase resettlements within our country; speed up asylum procedures, drawing on the German model; and be more efficient in necessary returns. France is already beginning to do itself what I want to see for Europe.
We also need to look further, and I want to say clearly that even the most robust borders and most ambitious security policy will not suffice to curb longterm migration flows. Only stabilization and development in countries of origin will dry them up. Today’s great migrations are fuelled by the inequalities that have taken root and the resulting crises. While Europe needs a border, which we must protect and enforce, Europe must above all have a horizon. That horizon is its foreign policy, which needs clear priorities: the Mediterranean, the heart of our civilization, first and foremost. We have turned our backs on it, so as not to see its crises. But they are now scattered across the region.
Our common policy in the Mediterranean and in Africa now needs consolidating. In recent weeks, a few of us have sought to do so, constantly involving the European Union in the initiatives taken for Libya and for the Sahel. More generally, however, our European policy can no longer view Africa as a threatening neighbour, but as the strategic partner with which we need to confront tomorrow’s challenges: youth employment, mobility, combating climate change, and technological revolutions.