European Union interior ministers agreed on Thursday that sweeping new proposals to overhaul the European Union’s failing asylum system should form the basis for negotiations on building a new management policy of the arrival of unauthorized migrants in Europe. However, ministers asked for clarification on many aspects of the proposals presented by the European Commission in a package dubbed the New Pact on Migration and Asylum in particular on new plans to deport people who are not allowed to stay.
The plan aims to end years of chaos at Europe’s borders and a political crisis triggered by migrant arrivals which have seen some EU countries turn their backs on Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain, where most people in search of a better life enter. “There is a great desire to continue working on the basis of the committee’s proposal,” German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters, after chairing the meeting, the first time the proposals were discussed by the 27 EU member countries.
Seehofer said the plan “addresses the key points of a possible future migration pact,” but admitted it was not greeted with open arms, saying “there were obviously different perspectives, different points of view “.The plan must be approved by all member countries and by the European Parliament. Seehofer, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency until December 31, said he hoped a political deal would be sealed before that date, but the pact would likely not be finalized until next year.
Time is running out for European politicians not only because people languish at sea in rickety boats or squalid migrant camps but because colder weather means fewer people are likely to attempt the dangerous river crossing Mediterranean Sea. Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese was encouraged that the proposals mark a change in policy but, she said, “we are at the start of a long and very complex process” which must ensure that the countries where most migrants enter do not bear the burden alone.
According to the proposals, migrants arriving at Europe’s external borders without authorization would be checked within five days. They would then initiate asylum procedures or be deported, both within 12 weeks. People could be detained for the duration. EU countries would then be faced with two choices: to host some refugees or to provide other material and logistical support; or for those who do not wish it, to take charge of the expulsion of people whose requests are refused. Mandatory refugee quotas have been abolished.
The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said she was “very encouraged” by the ministers’ response to the proposals she helped develop. “No Member State has said it is fully satisfied with everything in the proposal,” she said. “So they all have concerns, they all have questions, they all have amendments that they would like to see.” But she added that she did not see “impossible obstacles to overcome in the negotiations to come”.
Still, Johansson said “many member states” wanted details of the so-called “return sponsorship” plans; the process by which countries would take responsibility for returning people who have been refused asylum to their homes. Typically, countries that agree to host refugees would receive 10,000 euros ($ 11,650) per person from EU funds. Those who do not would have eight months to expel those who are not allowed to enter or are forced to accept them. In recent years, only about a third of all people ordered to be sent home were deported.