Wednesday

8th Jul 2020

France tightens immigration law, sparking division

  • The law has brought widespread criticism from human right defenders and sown rare divisions within Macron's own party

The National Assembly in France has passed new immigration laws that toughen up asylum rules by speeding up the application procedure and making it easier to deport people.

The controversial law has brought widespread criticism from human right defenders and sown rare divisions within French president Emmanuel Macron's own Republic on the Move (LRM) centrist party.

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

French lawmakers passed the bill 228 votes to 139, with 24 abstentions on Sunday (22 April) following a marathon debate that lasted 61 hours and attracted around 1,000 amendments.

Some 14 members of the LRM party abstained with another voting against the bill. The Senate is now set to debate it in June.

"I am not sure we're sending to world citizens the universal message that has always been ours," said LRM party member Jean-Michel Clement, who voted against the bill, in a statement.

Macron's party introduced the bill in February as part of a wider presidential campaign effort to wrestle support away from defeated far-right and anti-immigrant candidate, Marine Le Pen.

It allows authorities to keep child asylum seekers in detention for up to 90 days as they await deportation. The tough stace is not unique to France. Hungary keeps children as young as 14 in shipping containers along its border with Serbia.

Early last year, the European Commission told reporters that locking up children is a means to protect them from smugglers and traffickers. EU law allows detention to last for up 18 months. A few weeks later, it then issued recommendations on how best to protect children.

But the French bill also reduces the asylum application filing period from 120 days to 90 days and shortens the deadline to launch appeals from one month to 15 days.

Such measures render the application process much more onerous for the asylum seeker and risks unjustly sending home people who require international protection, according to Human Rights Watch.

In 2017, the French national court of asylum granted protection to over 8,000 people who had appealed their negative decision. Around 100,000 applied for asylum last year.

Those given refugee status under the new law will be granted easier access to work.

The move also comes amid a greater push at the EU level to ensure that people denied the right to asylum are sent home, given that only around 36 percent actually leave.

"We need to significantly increase our number of returns, all member states must streamline the return process. Return decisions should not just be given but also enforced," said EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos last September.

EU ministers try to crack asylum deadlock

Redistribution of migrants remains the worst sticking point as EU ministers discuss the latest attempt to rewrite Europe's 'Dublin' asylum law.

EU mulls new system to check illegal pushbacks of migrants

The European Commission says it may a new system to monitor push backs by EU states. The announcement follows weeks of dithering by the commission, which has refrained from condemning abuse by Greek and Croat authorities, despite mounting evidence.

EU asylum applications rise for first time since 2015 wave

EU commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson admitted on Thursday that the latest European asylum report reveals a need to better manage migration. In all, Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain received more asylum applicants last year than in 2015.

News in Brief

  1. France and Germany warn Israel of annexation 'consequences'
  2. Shipping firms to face EU carbon regime
  3. EU to mediate between Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey
  4. EU to unveil arms-trafficking and drug proposals
  5. EU to discuss people-smuggling with African states
  6. 'Torture chamber' found in Dutch sea containers
  7. Commissioner backs under-attack Hungarian news site
  8. New French government tilts to right

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. The opportunistic peace
  2. EU mulls new system to check illegal pushbacks of migrants
  3. EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row
  4. Revealed: fossil-fuel lobbying behind EU hydrogen strategy
  5. Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video
  6. Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss
  7. Belarus: Inside Lukashenko’s crackdown on independent voices
  8. The rationale behind US troop withdrawals from Germany

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us