Legal pathways to Europe needed to help curb human smuggling

The recent tragedy where 39 people were found dead in a lorry in the UK underlined the extreme price people pay to unscrupulous people smugglers. In the wake of this, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reiterates its call for more safe legal pathways to Europe to help stem the tide of human smuggling.

“I am deeply saddened by this tragic event. It brings home the scant regard smugglers have for the lives of the vulnerable and needy who simply seek a better life,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “The EU and its Member States have to be even stronger together to boost efforts to create safe legal pathways for migrants to enter Europe.”

Already in 2015 at the height of the migration influx, FRA identified possible schemes Member States could use to enable more people to reach the EU without relying on smugglers.

These included:

  • refugee-related schemes, such as resettlement, humanitarian admissions, humanitarian visas (either under Schengen or national law) and temporary protection; 
  • regular mobility schemes such as those available to family members of people residing in the EU, students, migrant workers and other categories of people, which could be made more accessible to refugees staying in non-EU countries.

Such legal avenues should be a core component of the European Commission’s efforts to combat smuggling of migrants.

EU-wide common approaches for legal entry and the exchange of already existing practices among Member States would also help.

By creating more possibilities to reach the EU legally, the EU and its Member States, will ultimately, save lives and reduce the suffering that people trying to come to the EU endure.