Wednesday

2nd Dec 2020

Commissioner: No one will like new EU migration pact

"No one will be satisfied" with the European Commission's new asylum and migration proposal due to be unveiled next Wednesday (23 September), home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson told a group of journalists, including EUobserver, on Thursday (17 September).

But that, paradoxically, is precisely why the Swedish politicians thinks her proposal, after five years of failed talks between member states and EU institutions following the 2015 migration crisis, has a chance of succeeding.

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"My impression from my talks is that I have 27 member states that are ready and willing to compromise," she said.

Johansson revealed few details about the new proposal, which would amend the asylum-regulation known as 'Dublin', and throw out the commission's earlier, 2016, reform plans.

She suggested that the responsibilities of frontline countries, which is the point of entry for asylum seekers, will change.

Mandatory help

One of the key issues that has divided member states is the relocation of refugees if one country is overburdened in a crisis.

"It's very obvious that voluntary solidarity is not enough, it has to be a mandatory solidarity mechanism," she said.

The commissioner would not reveal if the mandatory solidarity mechanism would also mean an obligation for all member states to take in asylum seekers, which has long been rejected by several central European member states, most fiercely by Hungary and Poland.

"There should be no way for a member state to have an easy way out, just sending some blankets," Johansson said, adding that countries will have to help according to their size and capabilities.

"It should not be voluntary to what extent you show solidarity, that must be in accordance with the capacity and size of the economy of that country," the Swedish politician said.

"Relocation is an important part, but also [we have to] do it in a way that can be possible to accept for all member states," she added.

She said triggers for the mechanism should not be too rigid as the bloc should prepare for different scenarios.

When asked how she planned to convince the anti-migration Hungarian government to agree to a common policy, Johansson said she had "no illusion" that all EU countries had the same views on migration.

"But I do think it's possible to reach common agreement on these proposals and have a common policy, even if they still have different views," Johansson said.

She added that because there are fewer eligible asylum seekers now than in 2015, the focus of the proposed legislation had moved from relocation to returning of failed asylum seekers to their home country.

Returns will need to speed up, argued Johansson, saying that her aim was that a "negative asylum decision will come together with a return decision".

In 2015 more than 1 million people reached the EU, while last year just 123,000 reached Europe's shores, according to the UN.

No more Morias

The EU should also step up "resettlement', Johansson said, which is the safe way for asylum seekers to arrive to Europe.

Johansson said that her proposal will focus a lot on work with third countries, origins of migration or transit countries, to better manage migration together.

But it will not include moving reception centres outside of Europe, an idea that was popular with EU governments a few years ago.

"It's not going to happen that we export the right to asylum. That's a fundamental right, to apply for asylum when you are on a member state territory. And that has to be defended," she said.

Talking about the devastating fire at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos where over 12,000 asylum seekers have been stranded for years, Johansson defended the EU.

"I would not say it's [the fire] not the result of EU policy, it's the result of lack of European policy, of a common european migration and asylum policy," she said, adding "we shall have no more Morias".

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