The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen proposed this Wednesday to abolish the Dublin regulation, the keystone of the asylum policy in the EU which crystallizes tensions, in favor of a system based in particular on more of “solidarity“between the 27.
This regulation entrusts the processing of the asylum request to the first EU country in which the migrant arrived, which states such as Greece, Italy or Malta, consider unequal because of their geographical location which places them in the first line.
Reforming migration policy
The European executive is due to present its long-awaited and repeatedly rejected proposal for reform of migration policy on 23 September. The debate over the lack of solidarity between European countries was reignited by the fire in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos, which left thousands of migrants homeless.
“I can announce that we will abolish the Dublin regulation and replace it with a new European system of governance of migration”, Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament, where she delivered her first State of the European Union speech in the morning.
“There will be common structures for asylum and return. And there will be a new strong mechanism of solidarity”, continued the German, who made this reform one of the priorities of her mandate.
This announcement, however, raises many questions about the envisaged solution: the leader did not go into the details of this “New European Pact on Migration and Asylum”, which will be unveiled next Wednesday.
Five years after the 2015 migration crisis, the EU is expected to turn a corner, previous attempts to reform the system having failed.
However, the 27, who will have to endorse the Commission proposal, are divided on this ultra-sensitive issue.
Act in unity
“The images of the Moria camp are a painful reminder that Europe must act in unity”, urged Ursula von der Leyen. “We must step up our efforts in this area and assume our responsibilities.”
In response to Greece, which wants more active involvement of the EU in the management of the center which will replace the one in Moria, it confirmed that the Commission was working on “a pilot project carried out jointly with the Greek authorities, to set up a new camp on the island of Lesbos”.
Migration is a European challenge and it is the whole of Europe that must do its part
“We can help with asylum and return procedures and significantly improve the living conditions of refugees”, did she say.
More “we expect all member states to step up their efforts as well”, a insisté Ursula von der Leyen. “Migration is a European challenge and it is the whole of Europe which must do its partt”.
In recent years, attempts to “relocation“asylum seekers in the EU have encountered refusal, in particular from the countries of the Visegrad group (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia).
For the director of Europe programs at the Res Publica association, however, the “same root” of the Dublin Regulation is intended to survive: to ensure that only one Member State is responsible for an asylum request, given the freedom of movement within the Schengen area.
“The big question is what are the criteria going to be to determine which states will be responsible for examining an asylum application?”, asks Yves Pascouau.
The policy of “hotspots” pointed out
The NGO Human Rights Watch called on the EU to “completely reconsider its policy of + hotspots + on the Greek islands and put an end to the practices which lead to the confinement of thousands of asylum seekers in unsuitable facilities”.
As far as Moria is concerned, around ten European countries have agreed to welcome some 400 unaccompanied children and adolescents who were in the disaster camp.
Germany, which holds the six-monthly presidency of the EU, has announced that it will take, in addition to some 150 unaccompanied minors, more than 1,500 people, mainly families. Chancellor Angela Merkel deplored on this occasion the absence of a concerted European solution to welcome more refugees.
As part of the “migration pact”, Ursula von der Leyen also promised “measures to fight people smugglers, strengthen external borders, deepen external partnerships and create legal access routes “.