Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

EU 'front-line' states want clearer migration rules

  • Greece, Italy, Spain, and Malta fear the latest EU commission proposal could lead to large camps (Photo: PES)

Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain are demanding clearer rules obliging EU states to take in migrants that land on their shores.

In a joint document, the four states outlined their views on the EU's new pact on migration and asylum.

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

Among their demands is that the relocation of migrants remains not only mandatory, but also the pact's "main solidarity tool."

"We believe that the solidarity rules and the related commitment of all Member States must be clearly defined," states the paper, noting the system needs to guarantee predictability.

The vast majority of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the EU first land in one of these four countries, often referred to as front-line member states.

Similar efforts over the years to relocate people elsewhere in the EU have met with stiff resistance from Hungary and Poland, among others.

The debate had killed off past proposals to overhaul EU migration laws despite getting rubber-stamped by the European Parliament

The European Commission in its latest proposal has since attempted to break the deadlock by also offering alternatives to relocation, including so-called return sponsorships.

EU commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas now calls it "permanent effective constant solidarity" in an effort to draw the widest appeal.

EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson has been more direct.

"It is mandatory to show solidarity and you can choose between return sponsorships and relocations," she had said.

But those views remain anathema to the EU's 'Visegrad Four' bloc, composed of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

Migrant ghettos

The commission had also proposed fast tracking asylum on the outskirts of the EU borders.

This includes filtering arrivals within five days and sending home anyone not likely to get international protection.

And some EU laws, for instance, when it comes to accommodation and food, will not apply because the screening will not technically take place on the territory of the EU.

The idea has not gone down well with Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain, who fear the fast tracking could lead to "large closed centres at the external borders."

They want the whole border procedure concept revised and remain in the hands of national authorities.

Money and equipment

Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain are also pressing the EU to shore up more money and equipment for countries where many EU-bound migrants are from.

"This is not just a question of more money, rather of actions truly matching our partners interests," it states.

Such moves are likely to generate blowback from civil society, especially if the funds and equipment are channelled to the Libyan authorities.

But the paper also faults the commission's proposal for being too vague when it comes to relations with these countries.

It demands more clarity on financial aid and says political relationships must be forged and invested in.

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.

Analysis

Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'

Last October, the European Commission gave an optimistic outlook on the adoption of its migration and asylum pact. EU commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas said its pact on migration was lowering the landing gear - suggesting agreement was possible.

Podcast

Honesty is the best policy

Politicians mostly talk about shutting migrants out. That endangers migrants' lives and obscures an important truth: that Europe already relies on large numbers of migrants for farming and manufacturing.

Stakeholder

Towards a truly 'European' Union

The EU did not solve the financial crisis, nor fix terrorism or radicalisation. Unlike most other political groups, the ECR doesn't believe these are temporary difficulties, but rather the consequences of the path this Union has taken in recent decades.

Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact

Negotiations on the European Commission's asylum and migration pact among EU states continues. But a rift is widening on the eight-month deadline for capitals to sponsor returns of failed asylum seekers.

Lampedusa: The invisible migrant crisis at Europe's gate

Last weekend, Italy's Lampedusa island was again making headlines for being overrun with migrants. But, paradoxically, the crisis was more visible from TV news bulletins and social media than from the ground.

News in Brief

  1. Tens of thousands of Jews quit Russia since start of war
  2. Russia says GDP forecasts better than expected
  3. Spain 'hopeful' for new gas pipeline
  4. German troops return to Bosnia over instability fears
  5. Next UK PM candidates reject Scottish independence push
  6. Russia will not allow British spy plane overflight
  7. Discrimination in Germany remains high, new figures show
  8. US weighs plan to revive Iran nuclear deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us