Alessandro Serrano Agence France-Presse Migrants at the reception center in Lampedusa, Italy, September 14, 2023.
Brussels said on Thursday expect an agreement “in the coming days” between Member States on a key text of the reform of the European migration system which obtained a green light from Berlin, but sparked Italian objections.
The regulation under discussion is intended to organize a European response in the event of a massive influx of migrants into an EU country, such as during the refugee crisis of 2015-2016. In particular, it makes it possible to extend the duration of detention of migrants at the bloc's external borders.
Berlin, which until then refused to endorse the text for humanitarian reasons, finally agreed on Thursday to the compromise on Table. “The revised proposal includes important changes that allowed Germany to approve it,” explained German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser after a meeting with her European counterparts in Brussels. /p>
The paralysis of this “crisis regulation” had sparked frustration within the EU, faced with the increase in migrant arrivals at its external borders and the situation on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
“Nuances” to settle
Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, said the compromise text now has the necessary majority among member states.
< p>He assured, just like the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, that an agreement would be formalized “in the coming days” on this latest text of the EU asylum and migration pact, which will then have to be subject of negotiations with the European Parliament. There remain only “nuances” to be resolved, said the Spanish official.
The compromise, however, aroused objections from Italy. Rome “has asked for time to examine in more detail the content of this proposal, including from a legal point of view,” declared the head of Italian diplomacy, Antonio Tajani, in Berlin.
According to the Italian press, these reluctances are linked to concessions made to Germany, particularly on the protection of NGOs rescuing migrants at sea.
The text provides, in the event of a “massive” and “exceptional” influx of migrants, the establishment of an exceptional regime that is less protective for asylum seekers than the usual procedures. It extends the possible duration of detention of a migrant at the external borders of the EU – up to 40 weeks – and allows faster and simplified procedures for examining asylum applications for a greater number of exiles. (all those coming from countries whose recognition rate, i.e. the positive response rate to asylum requests, is less than 75%), in order to be able to send them back more easily.
< p>It also provides for a rapid triggering of solidarity mechanisms towards the Member State faced with this influx, in particular in the form of relocation of asylum seekers or a financial contribution.
In July, the majority necessary for the adoption of this regulation had not been reached: Hungary, Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic had voted against, while Germany, Slovakia and the Netherlands had abstained .
Germany's abstention was due to opposition from the Greens, members of the ruling coalition, who demanded accommodation for minors and families. Minister Nancy Faeser indicated that she had obtained improvements on this point.
Pressure from the European Parliament
The blocking of the text has caused impatience among many EU countries and MEPs. To put pressure on the Twenty-Seven, the European Parliament decided last week to pause the negotiations already started with the Member States on two other regulations of the migration package, aimed at strengthening security at the external borders.
The agreement of the Member States on the crisis settlement should unblock these negotiations on the other texts of this pact presented in September 2020 by the European Commission. The stated objective is to achieve the adoption of this pact, including around ten pieces of legislation, before the European elections in June 2024, in order not to repeat the failure of the previous commission to conclude an overhaul of the asylum system. .
After the elections, the fate of such a reform could be compromised by possible changes in the political composition of the European Parliament.
In addition, Hungary and Poland, two countries fiercely opposed to reform and any reception of asylum seekers, will hold the six-monthly presidency of the Council of the EU one after the other; They will then, as such, be in charge of setting the meeting agenda.