What are the key proposals?
The rapporteur’s key proposals are:
- registration – “frontline” member states (countries of first arrival) must register all asylum seekers and guard and maintain their borders to prevent unregistered asylum seekers passing through Europe,
- transferring asylum seekers to other EU countries - if a country experiences an uncommonly high influx of asylum seekers, their transfer/relocation to other EU countries should be triggered automatically when the country has reached 100% of its allocated share (not 150%, as proposed by the European Commission) to ensure that no country has to host a bigger share than others due to its location,
- suspending the automatic transfer of asylum seekers - if a member state fails to guard its borders and lets unregistered asylum seekers travel on to other EU countries, it should be possible for the Council to suspend transfers from this member state,
- no admissibility checks ahead of relocation - the Commission’s proposal to impose a requirement to establish whether an asylum application is admissible before determining the responsible member state for processing it would create an insurmountable administrative burden for “frontline” member states. Relocation should take place swiftly and admissibility should be checked by the country responsible for processing the application,
- faster family reunification - to speed up procedures, an asylum seeker should be transferred immediately to the country in which he or she claims to have family. It should then be for this member state to establish whether the claim is correct. Should this turn out not to be the case, the asylum seeker would be transferred onwards to another member state,
- taking country preferences into consideration - in general, asylum seekers are not entitled to choose which member state they go to. However, they should be able to express a preference for a particular country. By voluntarily taking this wish into consideration, member states would get applicants with better prospects of integrating. Accepting the applicant would also count towards fulfilling the country’s quota,
- allocating groups - applicants for international protection should have the option to register as a group (max. 30 people) upon arrival in Europe. This group registration would not imply a right to be transferred to a particular member state, but a right to be transferred together,
- special focus on children - children and in particular unaccompanied minors should be given better care. Appointing guardians quickly (within five days), improving “best interest of the child” assessments, and establishing multidisciplinary assessment teams will enable the authorities to build trust with minors and break the negative influence of smugglers and traffickers,
- a system based on solidarity among all member states - all member states should share the responsibility for asylum seekers. It should not be possible to “pay your way out” of responsibility (e.g. opting out by paying a “financial solidarity” contribution as proposed by the European Commission). If a member state does not participate in the relocation system, it should not be eligible for solidarity payments from other member states, through the European Structural and Investment Funds, and
- Five-year transition period - to give countries time to adapt and prepare to receive asylum seekers, a five-year transition period should be introduced for the “distribution key” determining quotas for each member state. At the start, this key should be based on how many asylum seekers the country has been dealing with hitherto. This historical key should then gradually be replaced by the key suggested by the European Commission based on GDP and population size.