During September 2020, the European Commission presented a series of documents regarding a proposal for a new Pact on Migration and Asylum. These working papers contain a series of new rules and procedures that, after the approval of the European Parliament, EU member countries should adopt on the matter of migration management. The reform project is rather complex and it broadly covers the topic on migration, but in short it can be said that its main purpose is overcoming the malfunctioning present in the current laws on the matter.
In fact, the Dublin Regulation (more specifically, Dublin III, approved in 2013) proved to be unfitting during the migration crisis of 2015. One of the pillars of this law revolves around the principle that the responsibility of migrants is on the Country of first arrival, meaning that the first Member State in which a migrant applies for asylum or deposits their fingerprint, has to take care of the asylum procedure. For geographical reasons, this principle has put under particular pressure those countries that are at the peripheries of the European Union, such as Italy, Greece or Hungary. In particular, during the above-mentioned Migration Crisis of 2015, those countries had to face a really high number of asylum requests, leading to delays and malfunctioning in the procedures.
This short podcast below gives more information on this situation.
One of the main new features that would be introduced with the Pact on Migration is the one of “Solidarity”. It would be put into action in case of some triggering situations. In fact, if one Member States found itself under pressure because of the high number of arrivals, it would be required of the other Countries to intervene and help. The options that the latter could undertake would be the one of relocating asylum seekers within their borders or sponsor the expenses for their repatriation (in case they were not suitable for being recognized with the status of refugees). The quotas of requests that each Nation should deal with would be called based on GDP and number of inhabitants. The presence of both fixed quotas and specific procedures for dealing with asylum requests should be helpful in avoiding the long negotiation that wakes place every once in a while when a large number of people arrive at the European Borders. Moreover, one of the aspects on which the pact focuses the most is the empowerment of external border controls and border corps, such as Frontex.
Even though the Pact has not been enforced yet, some criticisms and doubts have arisen. For example, in the past some Countries have opposed reforms that would have led to relocation of migrants on their territories. Moreover, some observers such as Human Rights Watch (you can read more here) have underlined how the proposals are focused on making borders more difficult to cross rather than on creating safe and legal ways for entering the European Union. Some have also criticized the fact that the principle of Solidarity would only be activated in case of particular distress, leaving the burden on bordering countries on an everyday basis. In any case, the reform process is still ongoing and the project is way more articulated than presented in this article, whose only purpose is giving some hints on how the regulations on the matter are being shaped. The full infos can be retrieved here.
On the note of #Solidarity, have you contributed to our Action Week Against Racism?