Fifteen days after the Moria camp fire in Lesbos, Greece, the European Commission ended up proposing, on September 23, a reform of migration policies that had been rejected many times. She defends a “Acceptable compromise” for the 27, very divided on the assistance to be brought to the countries of arrival, in the south of Europe.
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Since the migration crisis of 2015, the countries of the Visegrad group (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia) have refused the relocation of asylum seekers on their territory. The European executive proposes to go back on five European regulations and directives and to overhaul the system on the basis of two “Pillars”.
On the one hand, introduce procedures “More efficient and faster”, including for returns, by means of a “Pre-entry” in the EU which would allow only migrants eligible for asylum to be retained.
The other pillar crowns the principle “Fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity” towards the countries of arrival, by means of “Flexible contributions” which would leave the Member States the choice between accepting asylum seekers, paying financial aid, providing administrative support, etc. This aid would be based on “A voluntary basis” but would become “Strict and necessary” during a crisis, following a particular influx, or rescue operations at sea.
► Should we speed up the return of migrants?
“Yes, provided that fundamental rights are respected”
Sylvie Guillaume, S&D MEP, expert on migration issues
“The question of shortening procedures and speeding up returns is not taboo, because it is not acceptable to leave asylum seekers for years in camps, waiting for a hypothetical answer.
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The reform, as I understand it, proposes to link the “asylum” and “return” procedures, whereas they are two procedures, in principle, distinct. People would be placed on their arrival in a sort of waiting zone, a bit like what is done in international airports in France, with a pre-examination of the situations, where only people eligible for asylum would have the right to enter European territory. The others would have a vocation to leave.
This would have the merit of shortening the deadlines, but fundamental rights must still be respected. Will migrants benefit from a suspensive appeal? Where will they be installed? And do we not run the risk of seeing situations of massive administrative detention appear? For the moment, all these points remain unclear. Deportation rates are bad in the European Union, largely because countries of origin do not issue the consular passes necessary on their return.
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To convince them, the EU intends to balance cooperation and legal immigration, which can work, there have been a few examples that have worked well bilaterally, for example between Spain and Morocco. However, I am afraid of removal measures that do not favor what works best, that is to say, voluntary return assistance, with social and financial support. I doubt that all these questions, which are bound to be debated in the European Parliament, can be resolved very quickly. “
“This is not the key to migration management”
Marie de Somer, researcher specializing in migration at the European Policy Center, in Brussels
“I do not think that we should necessarily speed up returns, because such an acceleration would not go without the risk that asylum requests will not be properly considered. On the other hand, we must, of course, invest more so that the conditions for returns – if they have to be implemented – are the best, the most dignified possible.
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In this area, in fact, much remains to be done, both in terms of respect for human rights and of relations with third countries. In these countries, there is a lack of incentives to re-welcome on their soil those who have left. Few agreements are in place. However, often these repatriations weigh heavily on economies, especially in Africa.
Moreover, those who consider returns as the panacea in terms of migration management, who highlight the need to increase the rate – and this is also the case of the European Commission – these often forget how much to return people in their homes can be difficult. Knowing where a migrant comes from, if he has no papers, is sometimes complicated. And we have to be sure that we do not violate international law by returning someone who is entitled to asylum.
It must be accepted that, in certain cases, migrants cannot be “returned” because of purely legal difficulties. It is therefore necessary to have the structural capacities to accommodate them. It is also on this level that we must progress at the international level. When it comes to returns, it is important that the rights of individuals are respected at all times, and that everyone can access asylum procedures safely. This is the condition for this “Human approach” for which the European Commission pleads in its new pact for asylum and migration. “
Does the principle of “compulsory solidarity” have its chances?
“A pragmatic solution that breaks the deadlock”
Fabienne Keller, MEP Renew Europe, rapporteur on the reform of the Dublin regulation
“The European Commission has proposed a pragmatic solution which consists in making “obligatory” the solidarity of all Member States with the countries of first entry if the latter are “under pressure”. She understood that if she proposed a single modality for solidarity, it would offer a blocking subject to the countries of Visegrad. She therefore tried to get around this state of affairs.
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I would have preferred more homogeneous solidarity, with Member States all participating in the same way in the effort. But putting a doomed proposition on the table would have made no sense. We must prioritize overall consistency. This proposal is a response to a deadlock that has been visible for years. Because, within the 27, the perception of the subject and the red lines are different. The history of migration, the perception of the issues or the experience is not the same depending on whether you are a country of first entry like Greece or Italy, a country of secondary migration like France or Germany, or a country where there is no migration at all.
Now, a lot of clarification will have to be made: what is meant by “pression” migratory? How can we ensure that asylum applications will be processed in a maximum of twelve weeks? How to best organize the reception areas? The Moria camp fire has shown us that the current situation is intolerable, it is not at all the Europe we want. On the contrary, Europe must be able to make progress on asylum and migration, have a clear mechanism – with predictable rules, on which all the States will have agreed -, organize the relocation of refugees as well as possible and facilitate their integration. This pact proposed by the European Commission seems to me to be a good basis for achieving this. “
“The question of internal solidarity within the EU remains unresolved”
Virginie Guiraudon, research director at CNRS, specialist in migration policies
“The European Commission has put a lot of energy into inventing terminology to satisfy member states with diametrically opposed positions. But the “Compulsory solidarity” in reality translates into great freedom on the part of European capitals hostile to the reception of asylum seekers. Austria or the countries of the Visegrad group may very well choose, in compensation, to put resources into border surveillance, or to contribute to grouped return flights. This proposal definitively buries the reform proposal of 2015, which proposed a distribution key for asylum seekers in the countries of the European Union.
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This way of getting around the problem is quite clever, but the Commission has no control over this highly sensitive subject, which has become the political instrument of leaders at national level. The President of the European Commission announced during her State of the Union address on September 16 that she would “abolish” the Dublin Regulation, the keystone of the current system which places the responsibility for the asylum request on the country of arrival. Either, but the notion of “Country of arrival” in the EU remains, so that the issue of internal solidarity, once asylum seekers enter the EU, remains unresolved.
I still see progress in the establishment of a voluntary solidarity mechanism, even if fundamentally it only concerns seven to ten EU countries which have already participated in relocations after the arrival of a rescue boat. This is a reinforced cooperation that will avoid haggling on a case-by-case basis, with survivors waiting at sea while a solution is improvised. I am afraid, on the other hand, that the 12,000 migrants from Lesbos will not get an answer to their situation. The reform could take years to pass. “
Breathless “Dublin regulation”
Signed in 2013, the “Dublin III regulation” places the responsibility for examining an asylum application on the first country of entry into Europe. Each country can ignore this regulation and decide to take care of an asylum seeker.
Regulation crystallizes tensions since the 2015 migration crisis. It exposed its flaws and angered the countries on the front lines, which felt abandoned by
In five years, the number of irregular arrivals in the EU has fallen, to reach 140,000 in 2019. While 90% of migrants in 2015 had refugee status, two-thirds are currently not entitled to international protection.
The number of “dublines” – passed through a first EU country before filing an asylum application in another – has exploded. In France, they were more than 35,000 in 2019, out of 138,000 asylum seekers.