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Record migration tests EU policy stance

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 02:20

2015 could see record migrant flows into Europe, according to the EU borders chief, and that's spotlighting a tricky dilemma for Europe: while migration may offer a benefit to the economy, it's a bane for politicians. David Pollard reports.

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A helping hand for migrants arriving in Sicily after a dangerous voyage from North Africa. Europe must give refuge where it's needed. That's one argument. The other is that it's a burden too big to bear. The debate more acute as the flow of migrants threatens to become a torrent. Europe's borders chief Fabrice Leggeri of Frontex. SOUNDBITE (English) FRONTEX EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FABRICE LEGGERI, SAYING: "We, we have to get ready and when I say 'we' it's of course Frontex, but also the member states. We have to be prepared to face a very difficult year." Italy's on the front line of a battle. To not only control the flow of illegal migration, but to save its victims. Over a hundred thousand migrants were plucked to safety from the Mediterranean last year. Over three thousand perished. With many fleeing armed conflict back home, it makes Europe's dilemma even more acute. Forex.com research director, Kathleen Brooks. SOUNDBITE (English) FOREX.COM RESEARCH DIRECTOR, KATHLEEN BROOKS, SAYING: ''The fact that a lot of these immigrants are illegal suggests that maybe some of these structures around immigration into the EU aren't working correctly, and that they need to formalise them a little bit more. There are obviously plenty of risks around immigrants and terrorism and things like that, but at the end of the day, from a purely economic perspective, people coming into Europe, working, feeding into the tax take, for those countries is a really good thing.'' The other major route into Europe is via the Balkans. There's been a steep rise in Kosovo citizens seeking better in Germany. Most travel through Serbia and on to Hungary - if they can evade Serbian patrols now assisted by manpower and equipment from Germany. The influx has heightened rhetoric from right-wing extremist parties across Europe - many talking of an ''enemy within''. Although there too the debate could be confused after the recent shootings in France and Denmark. SOUNDBITE (English ) FOREX.COM RESEARCH DIRECTOR, KATHLEEN BROOKS, SAYING: ''People leaving these war-torn countries are willing to risk their lives. They're the desperate ones, they're not often the terrorists. And what we've seen in Denmark but also France and here in the UK is that terrorists are home-grown, they're not necessarily an immigration problem.'' At least five and a half thousand migrants have journeyed into Europe since the start of the year, according to Frontex. With the numbers of those drowning in the Mediterranean already running into many hundreds.

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Record migration tests EU policy stance

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 02:20