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Procedure : 2012/2032(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0248/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0248/2012

Debates :

PV 10/09/2012 - 28
CRE 10/09/2012 - 28

Votes :

PV 11/09/2012 - 10.7
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0310

Debates
Monday, 10 September 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

28. Enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum (short presentation)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the report by Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum (2012/2032(INI)) (A7-0248/2012).

 
  
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  Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, rapporteur. (EL) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, we have been in negotiations on a common European asylum system for some years now. All the signs indicate that this year will mark its completion and thus, the start of a new era. However, the signs also indicate that the common European asylum system will not meet our initial expectations. Nonetheless, we hope that at least some positive steps will be made and that others – albeit fragmented – steps will follow. This report is predicated on precisely this gradual approach. In it, Parliament sends the European Commission and the Member States a clear message of its expectations in terms of strengthening solidarity in the asylum sector within the European Union. We have managed in this report to express the abstract concept of solidarity in specific terms, by stressing the importance of a fair distribution of responsibility between the various Member States. Now we are waiting for the Commission to forward the relevant legislative proposals to us, so that we can continue the job we undertook back in 1999. I should like to take this opportunity to express my warmest thanks to all sides in Parliament for their excellent cooperation on this dossier.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE). (EL) Madam President, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), our shadow rapporteur Ms Hohlmeier and I personally congratulate our rapporteur on an excellent report. The debate held during the preparation and drafting of this report was very important and negotiations on the asylum package are still under way and, as you know, need to be completed in a very short space of time, by the end of this year. This report has given us an opportunity to expound our thoughts more openly and to table proposals and ideas. I think that, even once negotiations have been completed, the report will provide a reference point in terms of problems with the common asylum package and in terms of the need for greater solidarity and an equal distribution of the burdens, as the rapporteur quite rightly said. We need a European asylum system and we need high levels of protection. All of this is set out in the report and I would like, once again, to thank the rapporteur and, of course, all the political groups for their efforts.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE).(ES) Madam President, I should like to congratulate the rapporteur, among other things, because, as it says in the report, ensuring the good functioning of the common European asylum system is particularly important at times such as these. This has been said before.

The number of people who die trying to cross the Strait of Gibraltar – or the Mediterranean – to come to Europe is growing considerably. In addition to this, however, we are seeing how the lack of concrete measures is fuelling a type of discourse, for example, from the Golden Dawn party in Greece, which is of great concern. Specifically, with regard to that aspect, solidarity between Member States is an obligation, not only from a humanitarian point of view, but also from that of their political responsibility, precisely so as to be able to overcome many of the difficulties that many of the countries having to manage this situation today are unable to face.

I believe that it is necessary and possible, and I also believe that the proposals the rapporteur puts forward in the report are absolutely vital.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, the issue of asylum at EU level continues to be particularly delicate. The disparities which still persist between Member States when it comes to asylum applications can only be resolved through greater solidarity. Establishing the European Asylum Support Office offers the potential of instilling this spirit of solidarity among Member States.

Romania has realised the need to cooperate with Member States who receive numerous asylum applications. Although the number of asylum applications received by Romania is low, my country has realised the need to cooperate with states affected by substantial migration flows. I hope that in the future financial perspective, the Asylum and Migration Fund will lead to better management and cooperation between Member States on the asylum issue.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D).(SK) Madam President, the EU promised to complete the establishment of the common European asylum system (CEAS) in 2012. The objective is a common space of protection and solidarity, based on common asylum procedures and a unified legal status for people who have been given international protection.

It is extremely important now to ensure the proper functioning of the CEAS. Migration flows are mostly mixed and include migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable people, such as unaccompanied children. At the same time, the flows of asylum seekers and migrants have their individual qualities which must not, under any circumstances, be neglected or mixed up.

Member States cannot, at present, adequately address the asylum requests submitted on their territory. We must therefore address the problems in the asylum area across the entire EU in an integrated fashion, by means of a better division of responsibilities, greater mutual trust, practical cooperation, technical assistance and financial solidarity.

 
  
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  Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE).(PL) Madam President, we are all aware of the problems in Malta, Italy – in Lampedusa in particular – and Greece: the problems faced by countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. One seldom hears about the countries which share a border with the eastern neighbours of the EU. It is true that the pressure on borders is somewhat weaker there. Ultimately, however, this is a great challenge for us and for the European Union. We cannot have this dividing line between the problems faced by the southern and northern EU Member States. It is important for us to have a common policy, and I am delighted that so many of my colleagues have spoken about European solidarity. We need shared management of our borders. Poland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs is even talking about a single border guard service. Once a common system is in place, we will be able to take adequate care of those people, protect their rights, their dignity and freedoms, and allow them to put their past tragic events behind them and live a decent life in the European Union once they have arrived.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD).(SK) Madam President, the increased numbers of migrants from the Mediterranean during the Arab Spring highlighted the gaps in European asylum policy. The logical response of the southern European countries most affected by the wave of migration was a request for the material and organisational burden resulting from the influx of migrants to be redistributed to other EU countries. As often happens in life, an apparently simple solution does not always have to bring good results.

Migrants seeking asylum come to Europe with the hope that they will continue their lives here in more dignified and more civilised conditions. They know that the language of the former colonial power they learned at school in their home country is readily spoken in a certain part of Europe and they will be able to integrate into the population there.

However, if we tell a French speaking family from Algeria or an English speaking family from India or Egypt that their new asylum home must be Estonia or Romania, we will be confronting them with a language barrier that is difficult to overcome, which will profoundly disillusion them and complicate their chances of integrating into the new environment. In the interests of a sensitive and humanitarian solution to the situation of asylum seekers, we should leave it up to them to decide where in the EU to settle, and help them integrate into society wherever they can most easily do so.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE).(SK) Madam President, the common asylum system should really be completed across the whole of Europe in 2012, and it should be an elaborate system from the outset, incorporating all participating EU countries into the asylum policy in a balanced way. I sympathise very much, of course, with colleagues or countries facing an onslaught of migrants particularly from Africa, and we know this includes Malta, Italy and Greece. Countries such as my own country, however, are confronted with new migrants who no longer see the country as a transit country but also settle finally or want to settle in Slovakia, where I live.

I am very proud of the fact that Slovakia has made huge progress. I visited an asylum centre in Humenné, where I saw that the conditions for asylum seekers were of a very high standard, and that they are cared for both in health and social terms, and that the issue of integration, of course, was very well looked after. I hope that this directive or this document will be successful.

 
  
 

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  John Dalli, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, first of all, let me thank the rapporteur, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, and the other honourable Members involved, for their work on this report. The Commission welcomes the European Parliament’s contribution to the development of intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum. I am happy to see that our views converge on the key approaches, especially the view that solidarity has to go hand in hand with the responsibility of all those involved to meet their obligations.

The lines along which solidarity should develop have been identified and confirmed by all our institutions: practical cooperation and technical assistance, with coordinating and supporting action from EASO, which must go hand in hand with legislative harmonisation; financial solidarity, via a flexible and easy-to-mobilise system, underpinned by closer partnerships among all those involved; and the fair allocation of responsibilities among Member States for both asylum seekers and other beneficiaries of international protection.

Let me share with you the Commission’s guiding principles in developing a sound framework for EU solidarity on asylum. First, our action on solidarity should be comprehensive and balanced. Mutual support needs to go further than just combating irregular migration. Solidarity also involves relocation, resettlement and a well-functioning, common European asylum system.

Second, solidarity in asylum is not primarily about emergency or reactive action. The best way to achieve mutual trust is for solidarity to be built into Member States’ everyday practice, for example, by supporting integration efforts. We should keep such everyday solidarity sharply in our focus in the future, not least because it is less politically visible than emergency action.

Third, it will be essential to follow up all the commitments made. As we announced in March, the Commission will report on solidarity issues in its annual report on immigration and asylum, starting next year. To prepare this report, the Commission will invite Member States to an expert meeting this autumn to discuss the current state of play.

I would also like to address the criticism the report makes of the application of the Dublin Regulation, and the related suggestion to develop instead an EU system for relocating asylum seekers. The Dublin system is certainly not ideal. The Commission evaluation in 2007 acknowledged the disproportionate burden on some Member States due to their geographical position. Other situations also need to be acknowledged: as recent experience showed, Member States without an external border can also experience disproportionate flows.

It is true that standards in Member States are unequal and sometimes insufficient, which gives some asylum seekers better chances than others. These problems will be addressed by the current reform of the Dublin Regulation and by more harmonisation in the second phase of the CEAS. So, completing our interinstitutional negotiations on the CEAS is vital.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, 11 September, at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Josef Weidenholzer (S&D), in writing.(DE) One of the key elements of the European integration process is a fair and effective asylum policy that demonstrates solidarity. More than anything, this policy must also measure up to the mark in possible crisis situations in Europe’s neighbourhood. The current system grew up historically and also dates from a time when there were fewer Member States in the Union. Reform has hitherto proven extremely difficult, as the subject of asylum has become a priority domestic issue in most Member States. Time and again, the populist exploitation of this issue to be observed pretty much everywhere makes it difficult to attempt to reach a solution in a way that is reasonable and satisfies the principle of solidarity within Europe. The report on enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum is an important attempt to disentangle this difficult situation. It is right to point out in the report the necessity of a greater sense of responsibility within the EU. The establishment of the common asylum policy, which is still scheduled for 2012, must be judged against this axiom.

 
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