The European Parliament’s civil liberties committee has called for the establishment of a “European Humanitarian Visa” for which asylum-seekers would be able to apply at EU countries’ embassies and consulates abroad.
The idea is that people seeking protection can access Europe without risking their lives, a European Parliament statement said.
The committee adopted the proposal by 39 votes to 10 at a meeting on October 10, calling on the European Commission to table, by March 31 2019, a legislative proposal establishing a European Humanitarian Visa, giving access to European territory – specifically to the member state issuing the visa – for the sole purpose of submitting an application for international protection.
The members of the European Parliament said that in spite of numerous announcements and requests for safe and legal pathways for asylum-seekers into Europe, the EU lacks a harmonised framework of protected entry procedures.
They said that because of insufficient legal options, an estimated 90 per cent of those granted international protection reached the European Union through irregular means.
According to the committee, humanitarian visas would help to address the intolerable death toll in the Mediterranean and on the migration routes to the EU (at least 30 000 people have died at EU borders since 2000), to combat human smuggling, and to manage arrivals, reception and processing of asylum claims better.
This tool should also contribute to optimising member states’ and the EU’s budget for asylum, law enforcement procedures, border control, surveillance and search and rescue activities, the MEPs said.
Beneficiaries will have to prove well-founded exposure to or risk of persecution and not be in a resettlement process already.
The assessment of the application should not involve a full status determination process, but before issuing the visa, each applicant should be subject to a security screening, through the relevant national and European databases, “to ensure that they do not pose a security risk”, the statement said.
(Archive photo, taken in Idomeni in Greece in March 2016: Jamie Dettmer/VOANews)