New Pact on Migration and Asylum

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The European Commission, realizing the complexity of the issues of migration and asylum, has offered  a new pact on migration and asylum, which provides for balance between the different aspects of migration management. The cornerstones of the document are:

  • effective management of Schengen and the external borders,
  • effective solidarity, skills and talent,
  • strong international cooperation and partnership,
  • flexibility and resilience,
  • stronger trust through better and
  • more effective procedures.

According to the Commission, more efficient procedures will ensure clearer responsibilities, helping to restore trust between Member States while bringing clarity to applicants.

In the following sections, reactions to the Pact in several Member States have been examined according to publicly available information from stakeholders and media:

As regards Spain, the proposition was strongly criticised by several Spanish NGOs, such as CEAR and Doctors Without Borders. They expressed strong discontent with the document claiming that it represents another failed attempt by Europe to manage the migratory flow while being oblivious to the human rights issues inherent to the process. Likewise, the new arrangement did not turn out to comply with the Spanish Government’s expectations, which will possibly lead to further negotiations between Madrid and Brussels.

As regards Italydiscussions have been ongoing on the difficult balance between solidarity and responsibility in the management of migratory flows. It is claimed that the Pact’s success will depend on overcoming the enormous divergences between Member States, which for years have blocked any attempt at reform. Another news piece claims that several years after the critical rise in migration flows the distances between EU countries on how to respond to the migration challenge remain unbridgeable, so even the reform package proposed by the Commission to meet everyone’s needs does not satisfy actors concerned.

The Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) rejected the plan in talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, and insisted that the plans for tougher new asylum rules do not go far enough. The prime ministers of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, the latter also representing more hesitant Slovak views, indicated they have an unambiguous stance on this issue of the EU’s new migration proposal. Hungary’s government insisted that EU’s external borders should remain ‘sealed’ while the Czech Republic rejected the concept of “compulsory solidarity” proposed by the Commission.

Bulgaria has advocated for a better balance between the solidarity the document proposes and the responsibilities of ‘first line countries’ like Bulgaria and Greece.

Finland seems to have not yet taken a detailed stance towards the proposed changes in migratory procedures and policies. In a statement, the Finnish Minister of the Interior, Ms Maria Ohisalo, affirmed Finland is committed to common European solutions for the development of migration and asylum policy, and is ready for open and flexible discussions seeking compromises on the basis of the Commission proposals.

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