So that your readers are not left with the wrong impression, I would be grateful if you would correct claims made by Chris Moncrieff in his article of September 22 ‘EU chiefs must roll up their sleeves on the migrant crisis’.
In his article, Mr. Moncrieff says: “When does the mighty EU propose to say something useful — let alone do anything — to mitigate the migrant crisis which is beginning to overwhelm parts of Europe”.
To be clear, the European Commission (EC) put forward proposals in May on the unfolding crisis, following the terrible loss of life in the Mediterranean in April.
The European Commission has diverted funds and is helping front line member states deal with the refugee crisis, including assisting the UK with the situation in Calais.
The European Commission has taken legal action to force member states to do what they have agreed to do — fingerprint new arrivals and process their claims in the first country they arrive in.
The European Commission is also leading cooperation with other countries to help refugees there and reduce incentives for economic migration.
On the one hand, tens of thousands are coming to the EU to escape threats to their lives and they need protection.
On the other hand, the European Commission has been emphatic that much more needs to be done to return those not entitled to asylum and has offered help and support to deal with that.
But it cannot all be done from Brussels — it is EU member states who have extensive police and border forces and judicial systems.
The bottom line is that although the refugee crisis was not caused by the EU, it is nevertheless a major challenge to it.
The response to date has not been perfect but I would ask those who assert that the situation would somehow be better without EU coordination on asylum, returns and tackling traffickers to explain their alternative.
Colette FitzGerald, Head of the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland