June 23, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Large-scale reform of EU migration legislation approved by the European Parliament


At its meeting on April 10, the European Parliament adopted a package of measures designed to overhaul the asylum system for migrants.

All five bills included in the Migration and Asylum Pact have been given the green light, although the proposed reform has been criticized by both far-left and far-right parties. The vote in Brussels took place amid protests inside and outside the building. Supporters of continuing operations to rescue illegal immigrants reaching Europe by sea shouted: “This pact kills.”

According to Robert Metsola, President of the European Parliament, a “sound legislative framework” for addressing migration and asylum issues in the European Union is “a balance between solidarity and responsibility.”

New provisions on migration and asylum in EU approvedmainly by the votes of the center-right in the European Parliament – the left and far-right supported only certain measures, while others were criticized.

The new rules are designed to strengthen solidarity with those EU countries that are the first to accept migrants, to establish interaction between EU members, to strengthen the protection of external borders, and to improve the asylum system. Birgit Sippel, a Socialist MP from Germany, called it the result of a generally acceptable compromise that was difficult to find:

There are rules, now they must be followed. Charitable organizations will have access to refugees, as well as lawyers to provide advice. The rights of migrants will now be better protected. But as always, the question arises: will all this be accomplished? The European Parliament of the next mandate will work on the answer.

The pact was supported by the three largest parliamentary factions, including the European People's Party, as well as the Conservatives, Socialists and Liberals, but parties on both ends of the political spectrum voted against it. The leftist group that organized the rally outside called it “the death of the right to asylum.”

The pact provides for the rapid identification at borders of asylum seekers who are not entitled to protection. The fact that they are facing total deportation is denied by the liberal MEP from France Fabien Keller:

The European Parliament has integrated into legislation measures to ensure respect for the Convention on Human Rights. This means good conditions for receiving refugees, providing their children with education, and generally treating them kindly and hospitably. The Geneva Convention will be respected, and the approach to everyone will be individual.

Various parts of the Pact must now be approved by the leaders of EU member states. This could happen before the end of the month. The package of measures, first proposed in 2018, is designed to speed up asylum processes, with no more than 12 weeks allowed for both positive and negative decisions.

It would create a single centralized verification system at the EU's external borders and a EURODAC database that would allow member states to check whether an asylum seeker has made the same claim in another country.

Another provision that Greece and Italy insisted on was the introduction of a “solidarity” mechanism: countries that are overwhelmed by a large number of migrant arrivals will be able to transfer the asylum process to another European Union member state. Countries further inland will have the choice of accepting a certain number of migrants or paying into the EU's common fund.





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