Pakistan to suggest ways for legal migration to EU

By Kamran Yousaf
Published in The Express Tribune on November 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani is leaving for Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union (EU), on Sunday (today) to attend a global conference seeking a solution to end the illegal migration and suggest pathways to resolve the issue.

Thousands of Pakistanis, often uneducated and young, try their luck to enter Europe through illegal means.

They undertake dangerous journeys, which at times ends in tragedies.

Against this backdrop, Foreign Minister Jilani is expected to propose measures that encourage legal migration to Europe for the developing countries, including Pakistan.

Convened by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, the International Conference on a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling will take place on Tuesday, in Brussels.

“Aiming to strengthen international cooperation against migrant smuggling, the conference brings together representatives from Member States, key partner countries as well as international organisations.

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivier Várhelyi and Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen will also be attending,” a statement issued by the EU Home Affairs read.

Jilani will be attending a panel discussion titled ‘Alternatives to Illegal Migration as a Key Deterrent to Human Smuggling’.

 

The Foreign Office spokesperson confirmed that Jilani would attend the International Conference on a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling being held on Nov 28. He will undertake this visit at the invitation of the European Commissioner for Migration of Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, according to Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.

The conference, to be held at the ministerial level, will feature the participation of EU member states, the European Parliament, EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies, partner countries of origin and transit, as well as various international organisations.

At the conference, the foreign minister will shed light on the measures undertaken by Pakistan to mitigate irregular migration and present legal pathways of migration as a viable alternative within the framework of the recently launched Migration and Mobility Dialogue with the European Union.

Illegal migration has emerged as a major issue in Europe where far right groups are calling for tougher measures.

There has even been a stalemate between the EU Council, representing the governments, and the European Parliament over the issue of migration.

Many EU governments want the issue of illegal migration to be linked with the next GSP-Plus scheme, a programme that offers either zero rated duty or preferential treatment to certain countries, including Pakista,n for exports to the EU markets. Pakistan’s exports to Europe rose by 108 per cent since it was given the GSP-Plus status in 2014.

The current arrangement was supposed to end this year but due to lack of consensus among the various organs of the EU, the current scheme was extended for four years.

The GSP-Plus scheme is critical for Pakistan’s economy as the EU is the largest trading partner of Pakistan.

The EU recently released its monitoring report expressing serious concerns over the state of affairs of human rights, media freedom, and trials of civilians in military courts.

At the sidelines of the conference, Foreign Minister Jilani is scheduled to meet the EU officials, including Heidi Hautala, who was the lead negotiator for EU parliament on GSP-Plus scheme. Jilani would also meet the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs to discuss the issue of illegal migration.

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