Saturday

23rd Jan 2021

EU seeks political accord on migration this year

  • "It feels very good that you are now in the lead of the Council presidency," Ylva Johannson (l) tells Horst Seehofer (right in screen) (Photo: European Union)

The EU is hoping to reach a political agreement on the migration and asylum pact before the end of the year.

"Our aim is that by the end of the year, we reach a political agreement covering the most important basic tenants," Germany's interior minister Horst Seehofer told reporters on Thursday (8 October).

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

Seehofer was speaking on the behalf of the German EU presidency, which is tasked to steer talks among member states.

"The aim is to bring about a political agreement and then under the Portuguese presidency of the Council [January-June 2021], the legal instruments will be put in place," he added.

He made the comments following the first meeting among EU state interior ministers on the pact, which was unveiled by the European Commission last month.

But Seehofer did not downplay the urgency and difficulty of the tasks ahead.

With Christmas holiday's factored in and mid-October fast approaching, the timetable to reach such an agreement is around two months.

The plan is to meet physically in Brussels again in November and in December. Other smaller meetings will also take place to thrash out solutions, he said.

The previous iteration of the commission's proposal on migration was bantered among member states for years without ever reaching any sort of agreement.

Earlier this week, EU commission vice-president Margaritas Schinas described the original proposal from 2016 as "too perfect, too ideal, too European."

"Clearly, on migration policy, I think it is a heavy dose on realism is called for," he said.

That realism has a focus on returns and sorting agreements with countries outside the European Union to take back their nationals.

But other issues with the commission's solidarity proposal, which also combines taking in asylum seekers with so-called return sponsorships, is likely to spark the most difficult discussions.

The Visegrad Four (V4), a loose alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, have already said they will not support the pact given the solidarity aspect.

Austria is not keen either, casting doubts on relocations, where member states take in asylum seekers already on the territory of others.

The whole is likely to create tensions with Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Italy, and Spain, often referred to as the five frontline states.

All five are pressing for a mandatory system of solidarity whereby others relocate people that arrive on their shores.

"Between those [Visegrad and frontline], we must find a solution," said Seehofer.

Seehofer did not rule out the need for a vote on the pact, should some EU states not fully align.

"In the course of political negotiations, you can never rule out anything entirely," he said, when asked.

"But what I can tell you is that our prime aim is to ensure a solution that has the backing of all member states."

EU migration pact to deter asylum

The EU commission's newest pact on migration and asylum seeks to deter people from claiming asylum by speeding up procedures and sending most of them back home.

New EU migration pact 'to keep people in their country'

The European Commission's long-awaited pact on migration and asylum is now set to be unveiled on 23 September. Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas has likened it to a "house with three floors".

Greek island community-run refugee shelters under threat

Founded in 2012 by local Greeks, Pikpa is a community refugee shelter on the Greek island of Lesbos. Now Greek authorities are threatening to shut down the facility, which won a UN humanitarian prize award.

EU to target migrant integration and encrypted apps

Migrants ought to learn EU languages and "integrate" their children, while encrypted messaging apps should give keys to authorities to combat terrorism, EU ministers are preparing to say.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary buys Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
  2. Netherlands imposes curfew to halt new corona variant
  3. Green NGO fails to stop Europe's biggest gas burner
  4. Swedish minister reminds Europe of Russia's war
  5. Spain: Jesuit order apologises for decades of sexual abuse
  6. NGOs urge Borrell to address Egypt rights 'crisis'
  7. EU conflict-area education aid favours boys
  8. EU told to avoid hydrogen in building renovations

EU demands answers on Croat border attacks against migrants

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson wants to send her officials to Croatia sometime this month to make sure authorities there are complying with fundamental rights following numerous allegations of violence against migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross into the country.

EU watchdog launches probe on Croat border violence

The European Ombudsman is launching a case into the lack of proper oversight by the European Commission when it comes to how fundamental rights of migrants and refugees are allegedly being violated by Croat border police.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
  2. EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up
  3. Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors
  4. MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute
  5. EU warns UK to be 'very careful' in diplomatic status row
  6. A digital euro - could it happen?
  7. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  8. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us