Monday

18th Feb 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

Leaders to avoid Estonian asylum plan at EU summit

The Estonian EU presidency plan for a 'Dublin' reform appears hard-pressed to gain traction given it will not be discussed by EU leaders at a December summit - and that the EU parliament has described it as a non-starter.

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.

Eight EU states take migrants stranded on NGO boats

France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania have agreed to relocate the 49 migrants stuck on two NGO boats moored, for almost three weeks, off Malta's coast.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers call climate change 'direct and existential threat'
  2. Seven MPs leave Britain's Labour Party
  3. Czech PM: May's EU elections 'most important ever'
  4. 'History will judge us': May tells MPs on Brexit
  5. Trump warns EU on release of Islamist fighters
  6. Venezuela expels 'conspiratorial' MEPs
  7. Holocaust dispute upsets Israel's EU lobbying
  8. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  2. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  3. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland
  4. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  5. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  6. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  7. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  8. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us