Thursday

29th Jun 2017

Lack of solidarity dogs EU asylum reform

  • Abela (l) 'The Dublin system does not cater for scenarios of exceptional circumstances' (Photo: European Union)

European solidarity was in short supply in Brussels on Thursday (18 May) amid ongoing disagreement on how to overhaul asylum laws.

Interior ministers met in the EU capital to discuss reform of the so-called Dublin law that determines which member state is responsible for processing an asylum seeker's claim.

The Maltese EU presidency, which is steering the bill through the Council, representing member states, aims to reach consensus by the end of June, when its term at the EU helm expires.

Malta's interior minister Carmelo Abela told reporters after Thursday’s talks that there was agreement on stepping up returns of rejected asylum seekers back home.

But he added that “further work is clearly needed” on the rest of the file and that “we will be returning to the issue in June, evidently compromises are needed from all sides”.

The meeting took place in an informal format, designed to help people gel, but Abdela said the talks were “frank” in nature, which is diplomatic code for prickliness and discord.

"There is still no consensus in the Council. I don't hide to tell you I expressed my disappointment on that," said EU commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The European Commission tabled the Dublin reform bill last year, but Malta is looking increasingly unlikely to deliver an outcome.

It has floated a number of internal papers on how to parcel out refugees across all EU states. Most of them enter the EU via Italy or Greece and are meant to stay there, under the existing Dublin regime, until their asylum request is processed.

It is hoping to reach consensus on one of the models in order to avoid another fiasco like the EU relocation quotas, which were rammed through by a vote in the Council in 2015 and which later saw Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland rebel against the scheme.

Malta’s third and latest ideas paper on Dublin, seen by this website, was circulated in April.

The six-page document said all EU states should accept at least 50 percent of asylum seekers allocated to them based on a distribution key.

Those that refused to take more than 50 percent would have to make other contributions and pay a sum of money for each person not accepted.

Hungary, Poland and Slovakia balk at having any sort of mandatory quota system, however.

Aid groups like the UN children’s fund Unicef have also attacked the EU commission's Dublin reform proposal.

Child asylum seekers on rise

Verena Knaus, Unicef senior policy adviser, told EUobserver on Thursday that the bill would lead to "persistent and systematic child right violations" if implemented in its current form.

Her comments followed a Unicef report that says the number of child migrants and refugees is steadily on the rise.

"Today one in two refugees in the world is a child and one in 200 children in the world is a refugee," she said.

Some 170,000 unaccompanied or separated children applied for asylum in Europe last year. Around a third of the some 100,000 kids who landed in Europe last year also arrived alone. More than 90 percent of the 28,000 that landed in Italy were alone.

"I think it is clear that the system we have at the moment is failing, it is failing children, but it is also failing states," Knaus said.

EU threatens sanctions in Czech asylum row

The Czech Republic and the European Commission appear to be gearing up for a legal battle following announcements by Prague to suspend the relocation of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme

Member states could fail to meet their refugee quotas even if they wanted to, as strict eligibility rules mean there are few candidates left in Greece and Italy. Sweden is already wondering if it will meet its pledge.

Security and defence to top EU summit

Pressure is mounting for social media platforms to remove any online content deemed to incite terrorism. Draft conclusions, seen by EUobserver, have made the issue a top priority in leaders' talks next week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  3. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  4. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  6. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  7. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  8. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  9. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  10. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  11. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  12. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million