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The new pact on immigration and asylum

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

In recent years, the EU has found that the method of managing immigration adopted has not satisfied all the countries concerned. This has led to problems and disagreements between member countries. This is why on the 23rd of September 2020, the European Commission presented a new pact on migration and asylum to create a new plan for negotiation between the members, aiming to modify the Dublin system.

What is the Dublin system?

Signed in 1990, the Dublin Convention responds to the need to create common grounds between receiving countries in the context of immigration and asylum. The Dublin regulation gives responsibility for processing an asylum application to the first country of entry of a migrant into the EU.

In 2003, the Dublin Convention was replaced by the so-called Dublin 2 Regulation, which addresses the responsibility for examining asylum application practices to the Member State designated under the Geneva Convention. This regulation reinforced the first country of entry principle. Then, in 2013, the Dublin 3 Regulation made some changes while confirming the same principle.

The European Commission's New Pact on Immigration and Asylum

The 2015 refugee crisis, the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to migrants at sea and the fires suffered by migrants in Moria (Greece) have led to the reflection on this new pact. There is also the request for solidarity from non-Schengen countries to the European Union for the management of migratory flows and the need to reinforce the security of new arrivals as well as their integration in the countries of arrival.

The system proposed by the new pact wants to broaden the criteria for determining which country should be in charge of the asylum application of new arrivals. Some countries such as Italy, Malta and Greece, due to their geographical situation, denounce the impartiality in the division of migrants.

The pact therefore proposes a principle of obligatory solidarity which will relieve the pressure from the countries of first arrival of migrants.

"We are going to abolish the Dublin Regulation and replace it with a European system of migration governance with common structures for asylum and return, with a much firmer mechanism in terms of solidarity. ", Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

In order to reach an agreement between the EU Member States, the Commission has defined new measures and established new procedures, among which :

  • Reinforced control at the EU's external borders

  • A new mandatory pre-entry screening

  • New faster asylum procedure at the border

  • Expedited processing for applications from migrants unlikely to obtain protection.

  • The rapid return of migrants whose applications cannot be successful.

  • A compulsory solidarity mechanism whereby countries can choose to receive asylum seekers, "sponsor" the return of migrants or contribute to the logistical aspects of managing and receiving migrants.

  • An integrated and modern migration and border management system with the improved Eurodac database

  • To promote legal migration by intensifying cooperation with countries of origin.

  • A coordinated approach to sea rescue.

Shortly after its presentation, the pact was already overwhelmed by criticism from some member countries. Hungary, for example, sees the pact as a reorganisation of illegal immigration, but not as a solution to the flow of migration.

Positive developments in the new Pact include the protection of the rights of the child and the family unit as well as a willingness to pay more attention to the protection of fundamental rights at the borders. It also focuses on promoting a more positive narrative on migration and integration.

However, despite having been presented as a tool for sharing responsibilities and ensuring more effective procedures, the focus seems to be on the protection of EU borders and the return of irregular migrants.

The European Parliament and the Council of Europe are now responsible for ensuring that a common migration and asylum policy becomes a reality in Europe.

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