- Checks on persons making irregular EU border crossings should last maximum five days
- Faster simplified border procedure for certain asylum claims
- Independent monitoring to protect fundamental rights of persons undergoing screening and border procedures
On Tuesday, the Civil Liberties Committee adopted its position on new rules for checks at EU borders and updated its negotiating mandate on asylum procedures.
With 41 votes in favour, 17 against, and 7 abstentions, MEPs backed a new regulation on screening at EU borders and on access to information on criminal convictions of non-EU nationals. The new screening rules will apply to persons not fulfilling the entry conditions of an EU member state, entering the EU irregularly or disembarking following a search and rescue operation, or having applied for international protection at a border crossing point.
The screening procedure should not take more than five days, but could be extended to 10 during crises. It should include identification, fingerprinting, security checks, and preliminary health and vulnerability assessment, and will conclude with a debriefing from. Authorities would then be able to choose the appropriate procedure for international protection or return.
The border procedures
With 38 votes in favour, 21 against, and 6 abstentions, MEPs updated their negotiating mandate regarding border asylum procedures.
The proposal introduces the possibility of faster and simplified procedures for asylum claims directly after screening, including for nationalities with low recognition rates. These should be completed in 12 weeks, including appeals. In the case of a rejection or dismissal of a claim, there should be a return procedure lasting up to 12 weeks. Unaccompanied minors, children under 12 years and their families, as well as persons with medical concerns should always be subject to the regular asylum procedure.
While an asylum claim is being assessed or return procedures are being processed, the applicant has to be accommodated by the EU member states and could be detained. However, MEPs want the priority to be on alternatives to detention and less stringent measures.
Monitoring of fundamental rights during all phases
EU member states should set up independent monitoring mechanisms to ensure respect for EU and international refugee and human rights rules – including not sending rejected claimants back to countries in which they are in danger of experiencing persecution, ill-treatment or torture – during border surveillance (between the official border crossing points), the screening procedure and the application of border asylum and return procedures. These independent monitoring bodies should also assess reception and detention conditions and have access to all relevant locations, including detention facilities, individuals and documents. MEPs also support the involvement of non-governmental organisations in these mechanisms.
After the vote, Birgit Sippel (S&D, Germany), who led on the new screening proposal, said: “With the new screening procedure, everyone entering the EU irregularly will be registered and undergo an identity, security and vulnerability check. This way, we can ensure we always have a good idea of who is entering the EU. At the same time, this effective and harmonised procedure helps us to uphold the right to asylum and respect of fundamental rights. The European Parliament can be particularly satisfied with the significantly extended mandate of the fundamental rights monitoring mechanism, which now includes border surveillance. This decision is a clear signal from Parliament that the EU should address human rights violations at our external borders and to stand up for the rule of law and fundamental rights.”
Fabienne Keller (Renew, France), rapporteur for the asylum procedures regulation, said: “This vote is an important step towards a European response to the migration challenge, striking the right balance between solidarity and responsibility. As MEPs, we call for fair and efficient asylum procedures to make sure that people in need of protection can rapidly access refugee status, while those who are manifestly not eligible to asylum receive a quick decision and are returned to a third country.”
MEPs also agreed -with 52 votes in favour, 11 against, and 2 abstentions - to open negotiations with EU ministers on the final form of the screening rules. The decision is expected to be announced at the 17-20 April plenary session. If there are no objections in plenary, the talks with the Council can start. On the basis of the updated mandate on the asylum procedure regulation, MEPs are ready to start negotiations with the Council.