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The European Commission unveils its long-awaited reform of migration policy

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The European Commission unveils its long-awaited reform of migration policy on Wednesday. A “compulsory solidarity mechanism” between European states in the event of migratory pressure and more returns from rejected asylum seekers: Brussels is presenting a thorny reform on Wednesday 23 September, five years after the 2015 refugee crisis.

The fire two weeks ago in the Moria migrant camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos, once again reminded us of the urgency of common asylum policy in Europe, which has continued over the past few years. come up against divisions among the EU countries. It is in this context that the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and the Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas unveil this Wednesday at midday, a “new Pact on migration and asylum”.

It must make compulsory the “solidarity” of all EU countries with countries of the first arrival of migrants, such as Greece, Italy or Malta, when the latter is “under pressure”. The aid which “not only” takes the form of relocating asylum seekers to other EU countries, but can also translate into “return assistance” for people who are refused asylum to their country of origin, according to Ylva Johansson.

This is a way of getting around the persistent refusal of countries like those of the Visegrad group (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia) to welcome asylum seekers, which failed the distribution quotas decided after 2015. But the subject turns out to be thorny, with some judging the alternatives to relocation impractical for small countries which do not necessarily have the means.

Replace Dublin Regulation

The Commission also wants to speed up asylum examination procedures, to quickly determine whether a person is eligible, and to prevent applicants from living in camps in “uncertainty”. To increase returns, which are only effective in less than 30% of cases, the EU executive wants to work more “closely” with their countries of origin.

“There are many countries with which Europe trades, which Europe supports through development aid, through a security presence and which today do not agree to take back any national in the framework of renewals ”, underlines the French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune. “This is not acceptable, I believe that we have the means, even if it is, of course, difficult, to change that, to sometimes put more pressure”, he explains, citing among the possible levers the issuance of visas.

The new system planned by the Commission is to replace the Dublin Regulation, the keystone of the current system which crystallized tensions by placing the responsibility of a migrant’s first country of arrival for his asylum application. But “a country you enter must have a certain number of obligations: registering people, possibly providing them with first aid, looking at the files quickly to see if they have a chance of obtaining asylum or not”, fact. to claim Clément Beaune. “Only the country of entry can do it, I believe that this principle cannot be avoided.”

Difficult Discussions

Long-awaited and repeatedly postponed, the Commission proposal, which will have to be endorsed by EU and Parliament, promises difficult discussions. Ylva Johansson doesn’t expect her to sound “cheers”, but hopes it will be seen as an “acceptable compromise”. The Commissioner recalls that the situation is very different from 2015, with the number of irregular arrivals in the EU falling in 2019 to 140,000 people. And if in 2015, 90% of migrants were granted refugee status, today two-thirds are not entitled to international protection, she says.

If she waits to “see the precise elements” of the proposal, the MEP Fabienne Keller (Renew Europe), author of a report on the evaluation of the implementation of the Dublin regulation, considers the whole “rather balanced between the values ​​which are ours […] and a necessary firmness ”. “This is a strong step,” said the former mayor of Strasbourg. For the Greens, MEP Damien Carême is more dubious. The end of Dublin? “I fear that this is semantics”, fears the former mayor of Grande-Synthe, who considers that the “principle of the first country of arrival is a disaster”.

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