Friday

10th Jul 2020

Leaders to avoid Estonian asylum plan at EU summit

An Estonian proposal to break the deadlock on a key migration reform will not be discussed at the upcoming EU summit.

Estonia, which hold the rotating EU presidency until the end of the year, had put forward a plan that aims to resolve the distribution of asylum seekers among EU states as part of a solution to the ongoing 'Dublin' reform impasse.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The so-called Dublin rule determines who is responsible for processing asylum claims and allows national authorities to send people back to the EU member state where they first entered.

"They will not tackle the Dublin reform specifically, at this stage," said Juri Laas, an EU presidency spokesman in an email on Thursday (30 November).

Instead, he said the hope is the paper discussed on Wednesday would shape future talks. But those talks are unlikely to take place anytime soon.

EU leaders and heads of state gather in Brussels for a summit on 14 and 15 December.

While migration will be on the agenda on the 14th, leaders are likely to eschew the Estonian proposal given the broader political sensitivities on parceling out arriving asylum seekers to member states.

EU parliament says no way

The European Parliament's lead negotiator has also described it as non-starter.

Swedish liberal MEP Cecilia Wikstrom said the proposed system "is very far from what could be an acceptable solution for the European Parliament."

The European parliament had come up with its position earlier this month, which included a mandatory relocation of asylum seekers.

But Donald Tusk, the European Council president, had ahead of a summit in October announced that migrant quotas have no future.

Leaders later decided to defer any final decision on the matter until June next year.

The Estonian paper is a follow up to similar proposal floated by the previous EU presidency under Malta, which was shelved.

The Estonians say their plan is different because it places bigger emphasis on prevention, in terms of being able to mitigate any sudden large inflows of asylum seekers and refugees.

The European Commission would take a lead role in determining how many asylum seekers to distribute to member states. Those figures would be divided according to population size and wealth.

An early warning would be triggered should a large inflow arrive, which would then require member states to provide other forms of help aside from taking in asylum seekers.

Relocation of asylum seekers between EU states would only take place if the two agree on a voluntary basis.

None of the EU states are said to be happy with the Estonian plan, which was described by one EU official as "a good sign of compromise" because it offers something for everyone.

The Estonians have also involved the Bulgarians throughout the exercise given Sofia is set to take EU presidency helm in January.

But at the moment, it is unclear if the Bulgarians plan using the paper at all.

The existing system has largely collapsed, with the EU Commission proposing an overhaul, which included a controversial automatic distribution system of asylum seekers.

Those plans were flat out rejected by a handful of member states like Poland and Hungary.

The two, along with the Czech Republic, had already balked an EU-wide asylum relocation scheme that distributed people arriving on Greek and Italian shores to other EU states.

MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future

The EU Parliament's lead negotiator on the Dublin rule, a key asylum regulation that has sparked a political clash among EU states, is now demanding for an automatic and permanent relocation scheme.

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.

Interview

Estonian presidency leaves 'more confident' EU

During its six months as head of the EU Council, Estonia tried to maintain EU unity and push 'digital' - despite Brexit and the lack of a government in Berlin, explained deputy minister for EU affairs Matti Maasikas.

EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece

Over 120 asylum seeking children and teenagers in Greece have so far been relocated to a handful of EU states in a scheme the European Commission says is a demonstration of solidarity. EU states have pledged to take in 2,000.

News in Brief

  1. Rushdie, Fukuyama, Rowling warn against 'intolerance'
  2. Clashes in Belgrade after new lockdown measures
  3. US passes milestone of 3m coronavirus infections
  4. France wary of any future lockdowns
  5. Lithuania bans Kremlin-linked Russia Today programmes
  6. UK nominates Liam Fox for WTO top job
  7. Italy supports Spain's Calviño for Eurogroup job
  8. France and Germany warn Israel on annexation 'consequences'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Five ideas to reshape 'Conference on Future of Europe'
  2. EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece
  3. Hydrogen strategy criticised for relying on fossil fuel gas
  4. Merkel urges EU unity to hold off economic fallout and populism
  5. The opportunistic peace
  6. EU mulls new system to check illegal pushbacks of migrants
  7. EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row
  8. Revealed: fossil-fuel lobbying behind EU hydrogen strategy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us