This week has seen the hearing of the first European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs. The idea of writing a specific migration component into the portfolio of a Commissioner has been on the table for quite some time, and many considered how Jean-Claude Juncker would go about in dealing with this issue.
Being of increasing importance to Member States, migration, is however also a very sensitive issue and Member States have been reluctant to hand over more power to the Union than it already has. Jean-Claude Juncker’s designation of the Greek minister for National Defence, Dimitris Avramopoulos, as the new Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, allows to suggest that Mr. Juncker wants to make way for changes in the way the European Union handles immigration.
In his confirmation hearing, Mr. Avramopoulos said that protection of human rights should be top priority for the European Union when dealing with immigration and mentioned how he wants to enhance legal ways to reach Europe instead of building an ever less accessible “Fortress Europe”. Giving a more concrete example Mr. Avramopoulos mentioned how he would like to look at the possibility for embassies and representations in third countries to review asylum applications. Time will tell which other concrete measures the Commissioner wants to look into and whether initiatives will be supported by Members States. At least for now the visions have been outspoken and Mr. Avramopoulos will most likely become the new Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs on the 22nd of October when the final vote is held.