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Overhaul of EU asylum rules long overdue

Date

04 May 2016

Sections

Justice & Home Affairs

Today, the European Commission announced an overhaul of the European Common Asylum system which will now have to be decided by the European Parliament and EU governments. The EPP Group has been calling for these changes for a year now.

The EPP Group’s Spokeswoman, Monika Hohlmeier MEP, said; “The Commission has made a very good and also realistic proposal. This will provide EU countries with a system that will be based on their own responsibility. However, if one of them is overwhelmed, the corrective fairness mechanism provides a European solution. But, also, this reform is not a miracle cure for the migration crisis. We need to take a holistic approach which also includes, for example, securing external borders and a functioning return policy.”

During the migration crisis along the Balkan route over recent months, many suggested that the Dublin Regulation (EU law) is effectively dead. The Dublin Regulation is a central tenet of the European Common Asylum System.

The EPP Group's Shadow Rapporteur, Roberta Metsola MEP, said that while the proposals still need to be negotiated with the European Parliament, the changes proposed by the Commission signify progress on the issue. "It shows that, while we are not there yet, there is an understanding in Brussels that Member States on the frontline should not have to face disproportionate pressure on their systems alone. There are some aspects where, coming from Malta, I think we can do better - particularly when it comes to Member States showing solidarity to each other, but I am hopeful that we can improve on the text in the upcoming negotiations."

The Dublin Regulation states that all migrants arriving on EU soil should stay in the first EU country they arrived in and cannot be transferred, or be given permission to travel to other EU countries. It also stipulates that if a migrant travels to a second EU country, that second EU country should send the migrant back to the first EU country. This clearly did not happen during the Balkan route migration crisis and has prompted the Commission to come up with an overhaul.

The Commission has proposed to keep the first-country rule but with a new "corrective fairness mechanism". This means that when an EU country is handling a disproportionate number of asylum applications (like Greece), asylum seekers are then relocated across the EU.

EU countries will have the option to not take part but they would have to pay €250,000 for every migrant to the other EU country receiving ‘its’ migrants.

Asylum seekers do not have the right to choose the EU country where they want to submit their asylum application.

The European Commission also proposed a number of measures intended to strengthen the EU agency for Asylum EASO.

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