The “new pact on migration and asylum” to be presented by the European Commission on Wednesday will replace the controversial Dublin Regulation. It must make compulsory “solidarity” for all members of the European Union with the countries where migrants only arrive when the latter are “under pressure”.
Brussels presents a thorny reform on Wednesday 23 September, five years after the refugee crisis in 2015. The fire two weeks ago in the Moria migration camp on the Greek island of Lesbos further reminded us of the urgency of a common asylum policy, which in recent years has steadily risen between Member States.
This “new pact on migration and asylum” will be presented at noon by the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and the Commission’s Vice-President Margaritis Schinas. It must make compulsory “solidarity” for all EU countries with the countries where migrants first arrive, such as Greece, Italy or Malta, when the latter are “under pressure”.
Support that “not only” takes the form of moving asylum seekers to other EU countries but can also be translated into “return” for people who are refused asylum to their country of origin, according to Ylva Johansson.
This is a way of circumventing the persistent refusal of countries such as the Visegrad Group (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia) to welcome asylum seekers, which resulted in the failure of the distribution quotas decided after 2015. But the subject turns out to be prickly, and some consider the alternatives to relocation impractical for small countries that do not necessarily have the funds.
The Commission also wants to speed up asylum investigation procedures, in order to quickly determine whether a person is clearly justified and to prevent applicants from living in camps in “insecurity”. To increase returns, which are only effective in less than 30% of cases, the European head wants to work more “closely” with its countries of origin.
“There are many countries with which Europe trades, which Europe supports through development aid, through a presence in the field of security and which today do not agree to take back any citizen in the context of renewal,” stresses French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune. “This is not acceptable, I think we have the means, although of course it is difficult, to change it, to sometimes put more pressure,” he explained to AFP, citing, among other things, possible levers for issuing visas.
The new system planned by the Commission should replace the Dublin Regulation, the cornerstone of the current system, which crystallized tensions by making the first country for an immigrant to take responsibility for his asylum application.
But “a country you enter must have a certain number of obligations: register people, possibly give them first aid, look quickly at the files to find out if they have a chance to get asylum or not”, fact to claim Clément Beaune. “Only the country of entry can do that, I think this principle can not be avoided.”
The long-awaited and repeated postponement, the Commission’s proposal, which will need to be approved by the Member States and Parliament, promises difficult discussions. Ylva Johansson does not expect it to sound “cheers”, but hopes that it will be seen as an “acceptable compromise”.
The Commissioner recalls that the situation is very different from 2015, as the number of irregular arrivals to the EU fell to 140,000 in 2019. And if 90% of migrants were granted refugee status in 2015, today two thirds are not entitled to international protection, she explains.
If she waits to “see the exact elements” of the proposal, MEP Fabienne Keller (New Europe), author of a report on the evaluation of the implementation of the Dublin Regulation, considers the whole “rather balanced between the values that are ours (…) and a necessary firmness “. “This is a strong step,” said the former mayor of Strasbourg.
On the green side, MEP Damien Carême is more hesitant. The end of Dublin? “I fear that it is semantics”, fears the former mayor of Grande-Synthe, who assesses that “the principle of the first country of arrival is a disaster”.