EU Leaders Proclaim Victory on ‘Historic’ Migration Pact

Roberta Metsola, President of European Parliament Photo: European Parliament/Wikimedia.org

On Wednesday the Council and the European Parliament have reached a long-awaited political agreement on the key regulations. The system formally known as asylum and migration management regulation (AMMR) will overhaul the EU’s legal framework on asylum and migration. The new migration pact also details the treatment of new arrivals, how the asylum applications will be processed and how arrivals will be identified.

There is a long-standing conflict in the European Union over the management of migration. The resulting dispute would now be resolved by introducing the principle of quota distribution or payment. The newly proposed legislation was voted by all EU member states except Hungary, POLITICO reported.

Admission or Financial Contribution

The frontline nations of Southern Europe now have the opportunity to implement a more stringent asylum procedure at their non-EU borders, and they will have greater authority to remove asylum seekers who are denied entry. Other nations will be able to choose between contributing to a common EU fund or accepting a specific number of migrants.

In order to respond to a sudden surge in immigration, the crisis and force majeure regulation establishes a mechanism to ensure solidarity measures to support member states faced with an exceptional influx of third-country nationals. The rules also cover the instrumentalisation of migrants, i.e. the use of migrants by third countries or hostile non-state actors to destabilize the EU.

Particularly, migrants from nations like Tunisia, Turkey, or India with statistically low acceptance rates (less than 20 percent) will be detained at the border in “asylum centers” that resemble prisons in an effort to curtail and discourage irregular migration. In those centers, the goal is to process asylum claims in 12 weeks or less, and to promptly return people whose claims are denied.

Under the new screening regulation, persons who do not fulfil the conditions for entry to the EU will be subject to a pre-entry screening procedure including identity, biometric data, health, and security checks for seven days. The specific needs of children will be considered, and each Member State will have an independent monitoring mechanism to ensure that fundamental rights are respected.

Victory for Everyone?

Following the agreement, EP President Roberta Metsola called the deal “historic” and “the most significant legislative package” before the election year. However, the EP President also acknowledged that it is “not a perfect package”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the migration pact is “an effective European response to this European challenge.”

More than 50 non profit organizations complained against the deal. In an open letter they argued the migration pact would allow countries to arbitrarily detain children, remove migrants to what the deal called “safe third countries,” and increase racial profiling.

“The final deal entails extremely disappointing outcomes across the board. Its main impact will be to increase suffering at borders and make it harder to seek safety,” said Olivia Sundberg Diez, Amnesty International’s EU advocate on migration and asylum, as news of the deal was made public.

The agreement still needs to be formally ratified by the European Parliament and Council.

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