Yesterday, the Ministers of European Union (EU) member states gathered in Luxembourg under the Justice and Interior Council and reached an agreement on two regulations included in the European Migration and Asylum Pact. According to the agreement, member states will share the refugee burden of Italy and Greece.
An important agreement was reached on the issue of asylum and migration, which has caused debates and disagreements among European states. Under the presidency of Sweden, the EU member states agreed to share the burden of examining the files of asylum seekers arriving in the EU by sea, particularly in Italy, Greece, and Spain, as part of the European Council’s migration and asylum management regulations.
Following the hours-long meeting, Swedish Minister for Migration Maria Stenegard addressed the cameras and stated, “To be honest, I never thought I would sit here and say this, but here we are. I am pleased and proud to announce that the Ministers have accepted the general approach on the regulations concerning asylum and migration management and the regulation on asylum procedures.”
Although there were member countries opposed to the regulation, the agreement became possible with Italy, which is at the heart of the problem, approving the terms of the agreement. Only Poland and Hungary objected to the agreement, and four countries did not cast a vote. The new regulation also needs to be approved by the European Parliament.
According to data shared by Euronews, Italy has long been the country bearing the heaviest burden of asylum seekers arriving by sea. 80% of asylum seekers coming through the Mediterranean reach Italy. In the first five months of this year, out of the 68,000 people who entered the EU by sea, approximately 51,000 landed on the shores of Italy. In the face of the intense influx of asylum seekers, the Italian government declared a six-month state of emergency nationwide in April.
Furthermore, under the current regulations, Italy and Greece are insufficiently capable of effectively and properly dealing with asylum applications. The examination of asylum seeker files takes years, and people hoping for a better future in Europe are kept in camps under poor conditions during this process.
The existing Dublin system, which regulates asylum claims, obliges migrants to apply for asylum in the first EU country they set foot in. Many countries argue that this system is ineffective while there are a large number of people wanting to migrate to Europe.
However, due to objections from some EU countries, no positive step has been taken regarding this issue until now. The agreement reached yesterday holds significant importance in this regard. Time will show whether the solidarity mechanism will reduce pushbacks.
EU member states will share asylum files
The agreement reached by EU Interior Ministers offers options to member states. Firstly, member states will accommodate and evaluate asylum applications of some asylum seekers who arrive on EU territory in their own countries.
Member states that do not want to share the burden of asylum seekers will provide financial support or assistance in terms of personnel and infrastructure. In this context, member states that do not receive asylum seekers will make a payment of approximately 20,000 euros per asylum seeker per year to the member state where asylum applications are made.
New regulations, although NGOs are critical
Among the two regulations accepted, the Asylum Procedure Regulation (APR) establishes a common procedure that member states throughout the EU must follow for individuals seeking international protection. The APR also introduces mandatory border procedures for the rapid assessment of whether applications can be accepted at the EU’s external borders.
The other regulation agreed upon, the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation (AMMR), is intended to replace the Dublin Regulation. With this regulation, it is desired to replace the complex procedures of the Dublin Agreement with simpler rules.
The Regulation on Asylum and Migration Management (AMMR), which is another agreed-upon regulation, is planned to replace the Dublin Agreement. With this regulation, it is desired to replace the complex procedures of the Dublin Agreement with simpler rules.
AMMR also includes measures to prevent secondary movements. For example, it imposes obligations on refugees to apply to the member state where they first entered or legally stayed. By limiting the possibilities of ending responsibility between member states or changing the location of the refugee, it discourages secondary movements and reduces the likelihood of the applicant choosing the member state to present their request. In this way, refugees are sent to another member state determined by the EU under the control of the EU.
Stephanie Pope, the migration expert of the international NGO Oxfam, expressed that the regulations do not provide a solution to chronic problems:
“These proposals will not address the chronic deficiencies in the EU asylum system. Instead, they indicate the desire of the EU to turn Europe into a barricade against refugees. EU countries plan to free themselves from the responsibility of welcoming refugees. As for the border proposal, it is just a replica of the flawed model seen on the Greek islands. It will lock up refugees, including children, in prison-like centers at the borders of Europe at great cost and hinder their right to asylum. As a result of this downward trend in the asylum system, the right to asylum for refugees will also be obstructed.”
Source: Ensar Nur, TR724.COM