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The European Parliament adopts the vast reform of migration policy

Photo: John Thys Agence France-Presse The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (foreground) welcomed on Wednesday “a huge step for Europe” after the adoption of a reform of European migration policy, a subject which has divided the Twenty-Seven for years. years.

Anne-Laure Mondesert – Agence France-Presse in Brussels

April 10, 2024

  • Europe

After years of tough negotiations, MEPs adopted on Wednesday a profound reform of European migration policy which tightens controls on arrivals at the bloc's borders and sets up a system of solidarity between member states.

During a plenary session in Brussels briefly interrupted by protests from human rights activists, the ten texts of this “Pact on Migration and Asylum”, the result of a difficult compromise, have all been approved.

“This is a huge step for Europe”, reacted the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen after the vote, hailing a “truly historic day”.< /p>

The same adjective was used by several leaders and officials, in Berlin as in Athens.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed an “indispensable historic step” which “limits irregular immigration and finally relieves the countries that are particularly affected”.

Among these countries of arrival, Greece, through its Minister of Migration Dimitris Kairidis, welcomed “a major step forward”. And Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi was pleased that MEPs had found “the best possible compromise, which takes into account Italy’s priority needs”.

The President of the European Parliament, the Maltese Roberta Metsola, considered that the Pact made it possible to “secure Europe's external borders, provided clarity on the applicable rules and guaranteed a balance between solidarity and responsibility, while respecting fundamental rights.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also welcomed the adoption of the Pact, saying that Europe was acting both “effectively and humanely”.

The three main European political families — EPP (right), Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and Renew Europe — have generally supported this pact, which has attracted widespread opposition. part of the extreme right, but also the Greens, the radical left and certain socialists.

On the side of the disgruntled is the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, for whom the reform is “another nail in the coffin of the European Union”. “Unity is dead, secure borders no longer exist. Hungary will never give in to the mass migration frenzy! We need a change in Brussels to stop immigration! », he wrote on X.

His Polish counterpart Donald Tusk, former President of the European Council, assured that his government would “protect” Poland against the migrant relocation program.

This Migration Pact is based on a Commission proposal presented in September 2020, after the failure of a previous attempt at reform, in the wake of the refugee crisis of 2015-2016.

“Pact of Shame”

The reform, which was the subject of a political agreement in December, will now have to be formally validated by the Council (Member States, probably at the end of the month. The objective of the negotiators was to succeed before the European elections of June, for fear of seeing the project buried by the next legislature.

Alongside this reform, which will only apply in 2026, the EU is increasing the number of controversial agreements with the countries of origin and transit of exiles (Tunisia, Mauritania, Egypt) to try to reduce the number of arrivals at its borders.

The EU faces a surge in asylum applications, which have reached 1.14 million in 2023, their highest level since 2016, according to the European Asylum Agency. “Irregular” entries into the EU are also increasing, to 380,000 in 2023, according to Frontex.

The reform puts in place compulsory “screening” of migrants arriving at EU borders, consisting of registering them in the common Eurodac database.

A “border procedure” is planned for those who are statistically least likely to obtain asylum: they will be held in centers while their file is examined on an accelerated basis.

Some 161 human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Rescue Committee, had called on MEPs to reject the Pact, expressing concern about “detentions of families with children”. and a “criminalization” of exiles.

The European Parliament adopts the vast reform of migration policy

Photo: John Thys Agence France-Presse Activists wear shirts spelling out the phrase “This pact kills” during the voting session on migration policy in the European Parliament.

“The pact kills, vote no”, chanted some activists present in the stands of the hemicycle during the session.

Among the Greens, French elected official Mounir Satouri criticized “a collapse of values”. “It’s a pact of shame, because it abolishes the individual right to asylum,” denounced German MP Cornelia Ernst (GUE, radical left).

The current rule according to which a migrant's first country of entry into the EU is responsible for their asylum application is maintained with some adjustments. But to help countries where many exiles arrive, such as Italy, Greece or Spain, a compulsory solidarity system is organized.

Other Member States must contribute by taking care of asylum seekers (relocations) or by making a contribution – financial or material – for the benefit of the country under migratory pressure. This alternative was intended to overcome opposition from Hungary and Poland to any refugee quota, but both countries remain hostile to reform.

These proposals are castigated by the far right. French MEP Jordan Bardella (Identity and Democracy group) accused the EU of having chosen “the path of weakness and that of airiness”.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116