The last proposal on asylum and immigration, which included quotas and mandatory distribution of refugees as a solution to the 2015 crisis, generated a deep division of which the European Union it has not been replenished. The immigration system does not work and the Twenty-seven have not been able to fix it in the last five years as evidenced by the tragedy in the Moria refugee camp (Greece). The European Comission aspires to overcome this impasse with a new pact that proposes to use development policy as a bargaining chip to convince third countries to accept back irregular immigrants who do not meet the requirements to stay in Europe, which proposes to speed up procedures and decisions on asylum and expulsion and that creates a flexible solidarity mechanism that does not include mandatory distribution quotas to prevent the plan from crashing against the resistance of countries like Hungary.
The Community Executive is aware of the sensitivity that this policy generates in the Member States, with countries that flatly refuse to host part of the immigrants who disembark on the coasts of Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Malta, Italy or Spain to ease the burden on these countries. A refusal that has led to overcrowded fields on the Greek islands and boats that have nowhere to dock to disembark the rescued immigrants.
“What we are proposing today is a European solution, rebuilding trust between Member States and restoring citizens’ trust in our ability to manage immigration as a union. The EU has proven in other areas that it can take steps to reconcile divergent perspectives & rdquor ;, explained the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, after approval of the plan by the commissars’ college. “It is time to respond to the challenges of jointly managing immigration, with a proper balance between solidarity and responsibility,” she added.
Objective: increase expulsions
To achieve this balance, Brussels proposes to build the new policy based on more effective and faster procedures at the external borders to determine who can stay on the European continent and who should be expelled. All persons rescued on the high seas or arriving without prior authorization will be subject to a health and security examination to determine their identity and whether they constitute a threat to public safety or health.
The idea is to quickly check who is eligible for asylum and who should be expelled. For example, according to data from the Commission, each year around 370,000 applications for international protection are rejected, but only a third of these people are repatriated to their countries. If the asylum application is not justified, the person in question must be deported quickly and avoid spending months “in limbo & rdquor ;. To encourage the acceptance by third countries of their nationals, Brussels proposes to negotiate tailor-made agreements with the different countries of origin using development aid, obtaining work or study visas as well as other economic and commercial advantages. In this area, Brussels proposes to appoint a European return coordinator to make the system more coherent.
Solidarity on demand
The second great pillar of the plan is the creation of a permanent solidarity mechanism. All Member States, without exception, will have to contribute and support countries experiencing a migration crisis or a peak in arrivals, although there will be no asylum quotas and no relocation will be mandatory. To prevent the Visegrad countries – Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – and other member states reluctant to welcome immigrants from vetoing the plan, Brussels proposes to respond with “flexible contributions”.
“All concerns deserve to be recognized and addressed and that is exactly what we are doing today. We have also learned the lessons of 2016. The wounds and failure of the EU to foster an agreement is very much on our minds and that is why we have to start with everyone on board & rdquor ;, explained the Vice President Margaritis Schinas.
This means that member states may refuse to host refugees but will have to show solidarity in another way, for example by assuming responsibility for the expulsion of irregular immigrants without the right to remain in the EU or giving operational support. “Under sponsored returns, Member States will give all necessary support to the Member State under pressure to quickly return those who do not have the right to stay, with the Member State coming out in support assuming full responsibility (for the immigrant) if the return is not carried out within the established period & rdquor ;, points out the communication.