New EU Migration Deal Quick Review: Hardly ‘Historic’

EU Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs are meeting on 14 September 2015 in Brussels to hold a discussion on the basis of the latest information on migratory flows and the situation on the ground.

On June 8th the European Union has agreed on a reform package concerning migration that some decision makers called “historic” while others deemed it a “win-win” for all member states. FactRefuge has taken a look at the new EU migration deal and classified its most important points with view to their impact on migration management as Detrimental, Beneficial and Uncertain.



Reform on Dublin Rules

According to the press release Dublin rules determine which member state is responsible for the examination of an asylum application. The newly-set up asylum and migration management regulation (AMMR) will streamline these rules and shorten time limits. For example, the current complex take back procedure aimed at transferring an applicant back to the member state responsible for his or her application will be replaced by a simple take back notification.

FactRefuge comment: Streamlining bureaucracy is a good initiative, however a simple notification in cases like asylum request management may be lacking since it automatically supposes the recipient of the notification is ready to accept take-back right away.


Solidarity Mechanism

According to the deal relocations will be carried out by default; 30 000 annually. If a member state will not take in migrants, it can contribute €20 000 per rejected relocation. Responsibility offsets will be added in that the member state not wishing to accepts a relocation (or relocations) will have to process the asylum claims in question.

FactRefuge comment: This seems to be a fair and flexible enough system which takes the burden off Greece and Italy in one way or another while at the same time accepting the reservations of Central European countries like Poland and Hungary. If the exact numbers concerning annual relocations and the “fine” for not accepting them are well set, even when a much larger number of migrants arrive at the external and sea borders, we will have to see though.

Quicker Border Procedures

The asylum procedure regulation also introduces mandatory border procedures, with the purpose to quickly assess at the EU’s external borders whether applications are unfounded or inadmissible. Persons subject to the asylum border procedure are not authorised to enter the member state’s territory. The total duration of the asylum and return border procedure should be not more than 6 months.

FactRefuge comment: Shortening border procedures is a key element of preventing secondary movement. The prohibition of free movement into a member state’s territory is also an aspect that increases safety, security and must be a very important addition from the Central European perspective.


The chapters below detail a list of proposals in the deal whose outcome can not be seen clearly right now.

New Common Asylum Procedure

According to the press release the asylum procedure regulation (APR) establishes a common procedure across the EU that member states need to follow when people seek international protection. The regulation also aims to prevent abuse of the system by setting out clear obligations for applicants to cooperate with the authorities throughout the procedure.

FactRefuge comment: Naturally we have to wait to see how this new APR will be different from the Dublin Procedure but setting obligations to cooperate with the authorities and emphasising its need are utopistic. A number of the newly arriving asylum seekers just want to get to Western or Northern Europe by any means necessary and as soon as they get inside the Schengen Zone – or even just the European Union – many of them will just move on to the next country.

Adequate Capacity

In order to carry out border procedures, member states need to establish an adequate capacity, in terms of reception and human resources, required to examine at any given moment an identified number of applications and to enforce return decisions. At EU level this adequate capacity is 30 000. The adequate capacity of each member state will be established on the basis of a formula which takes account of the number of irregular border crossings and refusals of entry over a three-year period.

FactRefuge comment: At this moment the formula itself has not been detailed and it is hard to see if this 30 000 capacity threshold can be held up taking into account the migration movements in the coming months or in the coming year.

All in all, the new deal on migration is half a step in the good direction but it is very difficult to say it will be an effective system if bigger numbers of migrants – many of whom will be actual refugees but many of whom will enter the asylum request procedure only to uphold the possibility of moving on to another country – attempt entry.

Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister called the deal “historic” which is hardly true. The fact that after a decade-long fight there is a deal however, is remarkable.

According to Reuters, the package will be finalised and accepted in 2024, making migration, once again and almost certainly, a central subject before and during the European Parliament elections.


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