Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future

  • Wikstrom (c) says her Dublin report is supported by the EU Commission. (Photo: European Parliament)

Asylum seekers arriving in Europe would likely end up in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia under the latest proposal put forward by the European Parliament.

MEPs on the civil liberties committee on Thursday (19 October) overwhelmingly backed a proposal that is likely to pivot the parliament against a small group of migrant-hostile EU states, led by Hungary.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The proposal seeks to impose mandatory migrant quotas and strip non-complying member states of EU funding in an effort to revamp a key EU asylum law.

Steered through the parliament by Swedish liberal MEP Cecilia Wikstroem, the reform aims to completely revamp the so-called 'Dublin' asylum rule, which is supposed to determine the country responsible for processing asylum claims.

The vote came ahead of a gathering of EU leaders and heads of state in Brussels and followed comments by Donald Tusk, the European Council chief, who had outright dismissed any future for mandatory migrant quotas.

"The person being isolated today is basically Donald Tusk," she responded.

Wikstroem maintains her proposal would likely be accepted by most member states should it go to a so-called qualified majority vote in ministers' meetings.

"There is no blocking minority in Council [on the issue] and I know because I have had more than 50 conversations with ministers all over Europe," she said.

A qualified majority vote is unlikely given the preference for unanimity decisions when it comes to asylum rules among EU states.

The committee vote gives MEPs a mandate, unless struck down by the plenary, to start negotiations with member states in an effort to unblock a legislative bill that has riled governments in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

All four, along with others, have balked at a two-year EU relocation scheme to take in asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

Diplomats in Brussels among other EU states have told reporters that the Dublin reform is at a standstill and unlikely to shift anytime soon.

"Migration is the crisis on which the EU is building its future. How we solve it will define the future," said one EU official.

Mandatory relocation, EU funding fines

But the EU parliament proposal demands a "permanent and automatic relocation mechanism without thresholds" calculated on GDP and population size.

People deemed eligible for asylum will be able to choose where they want to go if they have family or other "genuine" links like a previous job or a university degree in that member state of choice.

No link means they'll have an option to choose among the four EU states allocated the least number of asylum seekers.

Although EU states would be given a three-year phase-in transition for the new plans to work, the countries likely to be the initial hosts of new arrivals with no links are also the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

"It means if the person enters Greece, chooses to go to Hungary, God forbid, then that person is then allocated to Hungary," said Wikstroem.

Should Hungary refuse, then its access to the EU funding may be pulled or limited.

The Dublin overhaul also removes its current key provision that requires the member state of first entry to process asylum claims.

"This system is not only unfair, it is also ineffective, as the recent migration crisis has demonstrated only too clearly," said European Parliament president, Antonio Tajani.

Italy and Greece, which are overwhelmed with asylum seeker claims compared to most EU states, would no longer be held responsible for processing their claims.

Over the years, many have slipped through the countries and fanned out towards northern EU states like Germany and Sweden. The moves have seen the rise of internal border checks amid broader fears that the passport-free Schengen area is at risk.

Iverna McGowan, director of Amnesty International's Europe office, has described the proposal as a step in the right direction.

"Today's vote paves the way towards a system that will provide dignity to asylum seekers, by prioritising their family ties, as well as fair distribution between European member states," she said.

MEPs from centre-right EPP, socialist S&D, liberal Alde, Greens/EFA and the far-left GUE/NGL voted 43-16 in favour of Wikstroem's draft report.

Tusk: EU migrant quotas have 'no future'

EU Council chief said obligatory migrant quotas unlikely to be renewed, but warned of "consequences" for EU states that break solidarity.

EU seeks to shut down Libya sea route

EU leaders are aiming to reach a consensus on the Dublin asylum reforms by early next year, announced European Council chief Donald Tusk. But first, they want to shut down the Central Mediterranean route from Libya.

Magazine

The asylum files: deadlock and dead-ends

The EU is reforming a number of internal asylum laws, but lack of staff, politics, and the sheer complexity of the bills means deadlines - like those announced by EU council chief Tusk - are likely to come and go.

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.

Macron eyes France-UK border agreement

French president Macron wants the UK to take in more refugees as he revisits the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which allows British border controls to take place inside French territory.

Magazine

The asylum files: deadlock and dead-ends

The EU is reforming a number of internal asylum laws, but lack of staff, politics, and the sheer complexity of the bills means deadlines - like those announced by EU council chief Tusk - are likely to come and go.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap