After five years of failed talks between member states and EU institutions, the European Commission (EC) is finally revamping its Pact on Migration and Asylum.
The announcement was made today by EC President von der Leyen, having earlier stated that this would be a “human and humane approach”. Nevertheless, today’s official agreement is likely to create rifts between EU countries. Prior to the official announcement, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said, “no one will be satisfied”, referring to the EU strategy for dealing with the influx of migrants.
According to unnamed officials familiar with the EC migration plan, all EU member states will be obliged to accept a number of migrants and refugees, with the EU paying €10,000 per adult and €12,000 per unaccompanied minor taken in, according to Reuters yesterday.
Moreover, the plan is set to punish member states that fail to honour their respective quotas. If they do not comply, they would face proceedings in EU courts as well as hefty fines. The EU is also to step up support to non-EU countries managing migration issues before migrants and asylum-seekers enter the EU.
While the pact will build on the Commission’s proposals made in 2015 and 2018, it seeks to fill loopholes in order to modernise the Common European Asylum System so that EU countries can implement and deliver effective asylum and migration policies.
Moria’s tragedy triggered global outrage
The fires that spread on 9 September in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, caught the world’s attention and triggered condemnation of EU institutions and its leaders. “This incinerated ghetto was a cornerstone of EU migration policy” and it “should prompt an urgent and expansive rethink of how to humanely manage a phenomenon that will continue to grow as new conflicts rage and economies collapse,” Andrew Connelly commented in a Foreign Policy article.
“People all over Europe are shamed and enraged by the EU’s inability to provide a solution. They have grown frustrated with the hypocrisy of the EU’s right-wing leadership’s and their refusal to show solidarity in substance,” MEP Konstantinos Arvanitis said in a statement to Brussels Morning. He specifically singled out Poland and Hungary among the EU countries refusing to admit migrants.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also called for a genuinely common and principled approach to European migration and asylum policies. “The current approach in the EU is unworkable, untenable and often carries devastating human consequences,” UNHCR stated.
EU lost funds for migration
Back in 2014, the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) was launched in an attempt to strengthen and develop all aspects of the Common European Asylum System. AMIF was entrusted with €3.137 billion for the period between 2014-2020 to promote the efficient management of migration flows and the implementation of a common approach to asylum and immigration. In the seven years that have since passed,the EU migration policy remains deeply flawed and ineffective.
The AMIF’s remit included supporting legal migration to member states in accordance with such economic and social needs as their labour market requirements needs and their ability to promote the effective integration of nationals from non-EU countries.
Migration policy is likely to be on the agenda of the Special European Council next week. European Council President Charles Michel maintains that member states should first secure their borders and ensure that migrants are fairly treated there, while asylum benefits are being aligned within the EU.