Major asylum and migration crisis reform within MEPs’ reach

Asylum rules package a step closer as MEPs move ahead on rules for processing asylum claims in times of extraordinary influxes

A draft MEPs’ report on a regulation to address crises on migration and asylum seekers, will introduce allow member states to carry out various checks on third-country nationals at EU borders
A draft MEPs’ report on a regulation to address crises on migration and asylum seekers, will introduce allow member states to carry out various checks on third-country nationals at EU borders

An MEP’s draft report on a regulation to address crises on migration and asylum seekers, will allow member states to carry out various identity, security, health and vulnerability checks on third-country nationals taken into custody in unauthorised crossings of the EU’s external borders.

MEPs presented their reactions to this draft report and another draft report by Birgit Sippel (S&D) on screening regulations.

Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D) said he was “personally and politically convinced” that MEPs had to deliver on the asylum rules package.

The draft report on force majeure situations in migration allows the adaptation of asylum management procedures in cases of exceptional influxes, as well as the ability to grant immediate temporary protection in cases of indiscriminate violence or a situation of armed conflict.

The migration pact is aimed at reforming and improving a number of areas, including effective and fair management of external borders, fair and efficient asylum rules, streamlining procedures on asylum and returns, and a new solidarity mechanism for situations of search and rescue.

“It is important to try to establish as quickly as possible the identity of third country nationals and check for potential security risks but it’s also essential to identify early on any needs for immediate healthcare or isolation if public health grounds, vulnerabilities or special reception procedural needs,” Sippel said.

She welcomed the Commission’s fundamental rights monitoring mechanism proposal in the light of the ongoing reports of violations of fundamental rights such as pushbacks.

Sippel denounced shortcomings from processing times for screening, and called for the overturning of processing applications at or close to the border, in favour of leaving the processing location at the discretion of member states.

Sippel also opposed a clause referred to as “legal fiction”, whereby migrants could be detained and refused entry into a member state until screened, while physically being within member state territory. She said such a move would “make it almost impossible to comply with the rules on reception conditions.”

The parliamentary mood was not homogenous. Green MEP Tineke Strik agreed with Sippel: “The procedure should be as short as possible, there should be no derogation from the rights which are applicable from the Eu asylum acquis. We fully agree with the application of the reception conditions directive, not only for the reception conditions but also for the detention conditions.”                 

In contrast, MEPs from right-wing ECR and ID groups insisted on maintaining a hardline approach, Peter Kofod (ID) cited the “frequent and fraudulent practice” of some migrants who often start asylum proceedings in one member and run off to another hoping for a more favourable result, or just disappear within the territory all together.

López Aguilar said the feeling among the political blocs remained divided. “Yes there are groups in the House which absolutely adamantly oppose any form of solidarity, including of course opposition to any form of relocation programmes. But luckily they are not the majority. The majority would actually be ready to give it a go, actually solidarity through mandatory relocation programmes if needed.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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