European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said on Wednesday (3 June) that the Commission would not change its mind on the proposals it had recently come up with aiming to find a better way to distribute asylum seekers throughout the block. Giving a speech at the opening ceremony of the European Development Days (EDD), Mr Juncker started by stressing that the EU does have responsibility towards the rest of the world. “It’s not about charity, it’s about a partnership to the mutual benefit. We need to reject the idea of a bipolar world, part of which makes headway and the other stagnates. A human being goes to bed with an empty stomach, and a third of the urban population lives in slums – this is not acceptable”, he continued.
This year, EDD celebrated its ninth edition and was exceptionally well attended thanks to the European Year for Development. 2015 is a very special year for development as it is the first ever-European Year to deal with the European Union’s external action and Europe’s role in the world. It is an unparalleled opportunity for European development organizations to showcase their commitment to alleviating poverty and to making Europe count in development agenda. Moreover, 2015 is also the year in which the Millennium Development Goals will be assessed and a new global framework for eradicating poverty in the world will be agreed upon.
As such, Commission President called it “scandalous” that few EU members have decreased the amount of their official development assistance (ODA). Mr Juncker insisted that the notion that the ODA can be decreased because of the crisis is wrong and Member States should actually increase their numbers. However, he further pointed out that all the money and efforts are worth nothing if human rights are neglected.
Mr Juncker explained that migration was a human rights issue as many of the immigrants who leave their country for economic and political reasons have the very right to dignity. “That’s why the Commission recently proposed a European Agenda for migration. I notice that the enthusiasm among Member States about the proposal to share the burden is not great, but the Commission won’t change its ideas regarding legal and illegal migration,” Mr Juncker said.