EU ministers adopt Migration and Asylum Pact

Meeting on May 14, European Union ministers adopted the Migration and Asylum Pact, which a statement by the Council of the EU said “establishes a set of rules that will help to manage arrivals in an orderly way, create efficient and uniform procedures and ensure fair burden sharing between member states”.

The Council of the EU adopted in total 10 legislative acts which reform the entire European framework for asylum and migration management, the statement said.

The screening regulation will allow national authorities to refer irregular migrants and asylum applicants at an external border to the relevant procedure and will make sure that identification, security and vulnerability checks and health evaluation are carried out in a uniform way.

The new rules regarding the updated Eurodac database will allow to gather more accurate and complete data (also biometric data) on various categories of migrants, including applicants for international protection and people arriving irregularly in the EU.

The statement said that this will help inform policy making and enhance the control of irregular migration and unauthorised movements.

The asylum procedure regulation streamlines the European asylum procedure and introduces a mandatory border procedure in well-defined cases.

The return border procedure regulation deals with the returns of people whose application in this border procedure is rejected.

The asylum and migration management regulation determines which member state is responsible for the examination of applications for international protection and for the first time introduces a fair sharing of responsibility among the member states.

“Thanks to the crisis regulation the EU will be better equipped to deal with asylum applications in exceptional circumstances,” according to the statement.

The qualification regulation and reception conditions directive lay down uniform rules for the criteria for granting international protection and the standards for the reception of asylum seekers.

“This should also help to reduce secondary movements between member states.”

Finally, the resettlement regulation deals with legal and safe pathways to the EU by establishing common rules for resettlement and humanitarian admission.

A major new feature of the reform is the mandatory border procedure. This procedure will apply to certain categories of asylum seekers (for instance those coming from countries with low asylum recognition rates).

The aim of the procedure is to make a quick assessment at the EU’s external borders of whether applications are unfounded or inadmissible. People in the asylum border procedure are not authorised to enter the territory of the EU.

The new rules clarify which member state will be responsible for an asylum application (for instance in cases where a person has a family member in an EU country or when the asylum request is not made in the country where the asylum seeker first arrives in the EU).

Another important aspect of the migration system reform is the introduction of a solidarity mechanism to ensure a fairer sharing of responsibility.

“The new rules combine mandatory solidarity to support member states dealing with a strong influx of migrants with flexibility as regards the type of contributions,” the statement said.

“Member states’ contributions can consist of relocations, financial contributions or, where agreed with the benefiting member state, alternative solidarity measures (e.g. providing border guards or helping with the deployment of reception centres).”

In order to better deal with situations of crisis (mass arrivals and instrumentalisation) and force majeure, member states can derogate from certain rules and request enhanced solidarity from other EU countries. Possible derogations apply for instance to deadlines for registering asylum applicants and the duration of the border procedure.

The crisis mechanism is used only in exceptional circumstances and for the time strictly necessary to address situations of crisis or force majeure. It is subject to authorisation from the Council.

EU member states will now have two years to put the laws that were adopted today into practice.

The European Commission will soon present a common implementation plan to provide assistance to member states in this process.

(Archive photo, from 2018: Frontex)

The Sofia Globe staff

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