Sunday

5th Dec 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

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.

Belgian impasse leaves asylum seekers on snowy streets

Asylum seekers have been sleeping in the streets, some for weeks, in the Belgian capital Brussels - as the government grapples over the lack of capacity to accommodate them despite months of debate over the issue.

News in Brief

  1. Covid: Belgium might close schools and cultural activities
  2. EU consumers can sue Facebook, judge advised
  3. French centre-right tilts toward Pécresse
  4. EU urged to blacklist Israeli spyware firm
  5. Austria's ex-chancellor Kurz quits politics
  6. EU agency: Omicron to be over half of infections 'within months'
  7. New German restrictions target the unvaccinated
  8. EU commission unveils proposal to digitalise justice systems

People helping migrants 'increasingly persecuted in EU'

A new report has found a dramatic increase in the number of criminal and administrative cases against people who help migrants. The report comes as a number of sea-rescue activists face up to 25 years in prison in Greece.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium tightens Covid rules as health system 'is cracking'
  2. EU and US tighten screw on Lukashenko
  3. Belgian impasse leaves asylum seekers on snowy streets
  4. EU 'missed chance' to set fossil-fuel subsidies deadline
  5. EU energy ministers clash amid gas price uncertainty
  6. ECJ told to dismiss Poland and Hungary rule-of-law challenge
  7. Covid: what Germany got right - and wrong
  8. Quick Take: Enrico Letta

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us