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EU humanitarian role being undermined

13 September, 2018 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Sinn Féín MEP Liadh Ní Riada has warned the EU that it is undermining it's fundamental role as humanitarian actor.

The Ireland South MEP was responding to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's State of the Union address in Brussels this week.

Ms Ní Riada, who is a Coordinator on the EU Budgets Committee said that not only did President Juncker's address fall far short of the EU's humanitarian commitments, it didn't even make economic sense.

“In what will be his final state of the Union speech, Mr Juncker offered little in the way of a vision for the future,” she said.

“In the only new policy put forward, he unveiled plans to recruit 10,000 staff to the EU's coastguard and asylum agency to step up border policing and deportations.

“While this is clearly worrying from a humanitarian point of view it doesn't even make sense from a budgetary perspective and appears to be purely and cynically politically motivated.

“Most people recognise that mass migration will persist as long as conflict and poverty continue to drive people from their homes in search of a better life.

“We need to address the underlying causes of mass migration. Yet, what we see time and time again are proposals designed to be headlines rather than workable solutions. Establishment politicians continue to pandering to the far-right and anti-migrant sentiment, while failing to affect real change.

“Through my role as a coordinator on the Budgets Committee I have been pushing to have the EU honour its commitments on human development. That means funds for health, education, social protection, sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security for the most disadvantaged around the world.

“The EU has continuously reneged on development commitments because funds are redirected to border management and migrations services.

“In the last few days, a compromise proposal was reached for a very modest increase in the human development budget line for 2019. This represented hard-fought negotiations.

“To hear Mr. Juncker make this proposal without any explanation as to where this money will come from undermines the work of the European Parliament and potentially the role of the EU as a humanitarian actor.

“We need to offer help to those who desperately need it and, that means funding human development.

“More than that, the EU needs to tackle the root causes of global inequality and poverty. That means recognising the role the West plays in supporting and profiting from global poverty.

“Wealth is extracted from poor countries in numerous ways, from unsustainable debt to illicit capital flight through Western tax havens.

“There is no easy fix to mass migration but at the moment we are not even having the right conversation.”

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