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Reforming asylum and migration management

30-10-2020

In September 2020, the European Commission submitted a proposal on asylum and migration management, to replace the 2013 Dublin Regulation that determines the EU Member State responsible for examining asylum applications. While the proposal 'essentially preserves' the current criteria for determining this responsibility, it would also make changes and additions to the regulation, especially on solidarity and responsibility-sharing for asylum-seekers among Member States. The proposal comes after a ...

In September 2020, the European Commission submitted a proposal on asylum and migration management, to replace the 2013 Dublin Regulation that determines the EU Member State responsible for examining asylum applications. While the proposal 'essentially preserves' the current criteria for determining this responsibility, it would also make changes and additions to the regulation, especially on solidarity and responsibility-sharing for asylum-seekers among Member States. The proposal comes after a failed attempt to reform EU asylum policy following the 2015 migration crisis. While the migratory context has changed since, both in terms of arrivals and the composition of flows, the migration situation remains fragile, as evidenced by pressures on national asylum systems and continual disembarkations after search and rescue operations. According to the Commission, addressing this situation requires a relaunch of the reform of the common European asylum system to achieve a more efficient, fair and harmonised framework that is more resistant to future migratory pressures. The new system would ensure international protection to those who need it and be effective and humane towards those who have to be returned. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Reform of the Dublin system

30-09-2020

The refugee and migrant crisis in Europe has exposed the need for reform of the Common European Asylum System, in general, and of the Dublin rules, in particular. The Commission’s proposal of 4 May 2016 to reform the Dublin system would not change the existing criteria for determining which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. Instead of a fundamental overhaul of the Dublin regime, as suggested by Parliament, the Commission proposed to streamline and supplement the current ...

The refugee and migrant crisis in Europe has exposed the need for reform of the Common European Asylum System, in general, and of the Dublin rules, in particular. The Commission’s proposal of 4 May 2016 to reform the Dublin system would not change the existing criteria for determining which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. Instead of a fundamental overhaul of the Dublin regime, as suggested by Parliament, the Commission proposed to streamline and supplement the current rules with a corrective allocation mechanism. This mechanism would be triggered automatically were a Member State to be faced with disproportionate numbers of asylum-seekers. If a Member State decided not to accept the allocation of asylum-seekers from another one under pressure, a ‘solidarity contribution’ per applicant would have to be made instead. An agreement on the balance between responsibility and solidarity regarding the distribution of asylum-seekers will be a cornerstone for the new EU asylum policy. Although Parliament’s LIBE committee adopted its positon in autumn 2017, the Council has been unable to reach a position on the proposal. Third edition of a briefing originally drafted by Detelin Ivanov. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Hotspots at EU external borders: State of play

25-09-2020

The 'hotspot approach' was presented by the European Commission as part of the European Agenda on Migration in April 2015, when record numbers of refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants flocked to the EU. The 'hotspots' – first reception facilities – aim to improve coordination of the EU agencies' and national authorities' efforts at the external borders of the EU, in the initial reception, identification, registration and fingerprinting of asylum-seekers and migrants. Even though other Member ...

The 'hotspot approach' was presented by the European Commission as part of the European Agenda on Migration in April 2015, when record numbers of refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants flocked to the EU. The 'hotspots' – first reception facilities – aim to improve coordination of the EU agencies' and national authorities' efforts at the external borders of the EU, in the initial reception, identification, registration and fingerprinting of asylum-seekers and migrants. Even though other Member States also have the possibility to benefit from the hotspot approach, only Greece and Italy host hotspots. In Greece, the hotspot approach remains the key strategy in addressing migratory pressures. The EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016, closely linked to the implementation of the hotspot approach in Greece, led to a considerable drop in irregular migration flows from Turkey to the EU. However, returns of irregular migrants to Turkey – a cornerstone of the agreement – are low. The deteriorating relationship between Turkey and the EU is putting the agreement under increasing pressure. The hotspot approach was also set up to contribute to the temporary emergency relocation mechanisms that – between September 2015 and September 2017 – helped to transfer asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU Member States. Even though 96 % of the people eligible had been relocated by the end of March 2018, relocation numbers were far from the targets originally set and the system led to tensions with Czechia, Hungary and Poland, which refused to comply with the mechanism. Since their inception, the majority of the hotspots have suffered from overcrowding, and concerns have been raised by stakeholders with regard to camp facilities and living conditions – in particular for vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers – and to gaps in access to asylum procedures. These shortcomings cause tensions among the migrants and with local populations and have already led to violent protests. On 8 September 2020, a devastating fire in the Moria camp, on Lesvos, only aggravated the existing problems. The European Parliament has called repeatedly for action to ensure that the hotspot approach does not endanger the fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants. This briefing updates two earlier ones published in March 2016 and in June 2018.

The need for solidarity in EU asylum policy

23-09-2020

In early September 2020, a fire in the over-crowded migrant camp of Moria in Greece pushed thousands of people onto the streets, exacerbating the already dire conditions faced by asylum-seekers and migrants. The incident also shows the need to find a solution to a crisis of solidarity in EU asylum policy that has remained unresolved since the unprecedented influx of migrants into the EU in 2015. The European Commission presented a new Pact on Asylum and Migration on 23 September 2020. In that, it ...

In early September 2020, a fire in the over-crowded migrant camp of Moria in Greece pushed thousands of people onto the streets, exacerbating the already dire conditions faced by asylum-seekers and migrants. The incident also shows the need to find a solution to a crisis of solidarity in EU asylum policy that has remained unresolved since the unprecedented influx of migrants into the EU in 2015. The European Commission presented a new Pact on Asylum and Migration on 23 September 2020. In that, it puts forward a compromise on solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility for asylum-seekers among EU Member States.

The Return Directive 2008/115/EC

07-07-2020

In November 2019, the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) launched an implementation report on Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (the 'Return Directive'). The Return Directive aims at ensuring that the return of non-EU nationals without legal grounds to stay in the EU is carried out effectively, through fair and transparent procedures that fully respect the ...

In November 2019, the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) launched an implementation report on Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (the 'Return Directive'). The Return Directive aims at ensuring that the return of non-EU nationals without legal grounds to stay in the EU is carried out effectively, through fair and transparent procedures that fully respect the fundamental rights and dignity of the people concerned. Tineke Strik (Greens/EFA, the Netherlands) was appointed as rapporteur. Implementation reports by European Parliament committees are routinely accompanied by European Implementation Assessments, drawn up by the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit of the European Parliament's Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS). This EPRS European Implementation Assessment finds several protection gaps and shortcomings regarding the four key measures of the Return Directive – return decision, enforcement of the return decision, entry ban, and detention – which may lead to fundamental rights violations for irregular migrants. Moreover, EU return and readmission policy has increasingly resorted to informal cooperation in the external policy dimension. There have been, and continue to be, rule of law, fundamental rights, budgetary and external affairs implications flowing from the pursuit, conclusion and implementation of EU readmission agreements and agreements having equivalent effect with third countries.

Tackling the coronavirus outbreak: Impact on asylum-seekers in the EU

22-04-2020

To curb the spread of coronavirus and to protect their populations, the EU and its Member States have restricted crossings of their external borders, and many internal EU borders, as well as restricted freedom of movement within their territory. These steps have also served to address the challenges the pandemic has posed to public order, public health and national security. However, the resulting restrictions on people's movement and access to EU territory could disproportionately affect the most ...

To curb the spread of coronavirus and to protect their populations, the EU and its Member States have restricted crossings of their external borders, and many internal EU borders, as well as restricted freedom of movement within their territory. These steps have also served to address the challenges the pandemic has posed to public order, public health and national security. However, the resulting restrictions on people's movement and access to EU territory could disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, among them asylum-seekers-already in the EU or trying to reach its territory to seek asylum. The situation of asylum-seekers during the current pandemic is especially critical in the EU hotspots; Greece, for instance, whose reception capacity has been stretched to the limit, is struggling to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable asylum-seekers, especially unaccompanied minors. While the EU has been assisting Greece to protect stranded asylum-seekers, NGOs and international organisations as well as the European Parliament have called for greater efforts to improve their living conditions and ensure the preventive evacuation of those at high risk. Several Member States have adopted emergency measures to deal with the pandemic. To protect public health, they have closed their external borders and ports to asylum-seekers, suspended asylum procedures and returns, and imposed mandatory confinement in asylum reception centres to restrict freedom of movement. All those measures risk having a negative impact on asylum-seekers' fundamental rights under EU and international law.

Solidarity in EU asylum policy

23-03-2020

The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU in 2015 exposed a number of deficiencies in EU external border, asylum and migration policy, sparking EU action through various legal and policy instruments. While the EU has been relatively successful in securing external borders, curbing irregular migrant arrivals and increasing cooperation with third countries, Member States are still reluctant to show solidarity and do more to share responsibility for asylum-seekers. International ...

The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU in 2015 exposed a number of deficiencies in EU external border, asylum and migration policy, sparking EU action through various legal and policy instruments. While the EU has been relatively successful in securing external borders, curbing irregular migrant arrivals and increasing cooperation with third countries, Member States are still reluctant to show solidarity and do more to share responsibility for asylum-seekers. International cooperation and solidarity is key in helping to manage migration to and between states. Under international law, countries have certain legal obligations to assist and protect refugees that they accept on their territory, but the legal duties of other states to help and share that responsibility are less clear. At EU level, the principle of solidarity is set out in Article 80 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), however there is currently no consensus on whether it can be used as a stand-alone or joint legal basis for secondary legislation. Furthermore, the notions of 'solidarity' and 'fair sharing of responsibilities' for refugees or asylum-seekers are not defined in EU law. This has prompted EU institutions, academics and other stakeholders to propose different ways to resolve the issue, such as sharing out relevant tasks and pooling resources at EU level, compensating frontline Member States financially and through other contributions – such as flexible solidarity – and changing the focus of the European Court of Justice when interpreting EU asylum law. In recent years, the EU has provided the Member States most affected by migrant arrivals with significant financial and practical support, notably through the EU budget and the deployment of personnel and equipment. Nevertheless, the continued failure to reform the EU asylum system, as well as the implementation of temporary solidarity measures based on ad-hoc solutions, has exposed a crisis of solidarity that shows no signs of being resolved. The von der Leyen Commission has made it clear that the new EU asylum system 'should include finding new forms of solidarity and should ensure that all Member States make meaningful contributions to support those countries under the most pressure'.

Dublin Regulation on international protection applications

21-02-2020

The study unveils the weaknesses in the application of the Dublin Regulation, which aim at determining which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. It shows that the initial aim of the Regulation (i.e., a swift and fair access to asylum procedure in the EU) has not been achieved and that the rights of asylum seekers are not fully guaranteed throughout the procedures entailed by the Regulation.

The study unveils the weaknesses in the application of the Dublin Regulation, which aim at determining which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. It shows that the initial aim of the Regulation (i.e., a swift and fair access to asylum procedure in the EU) has not been achieved and that the rights of asylum seekers are not fully guaranteed throughout the procedures entailed by the Regulation.

Zero tolerance for female genital mutilation

05-02-2020

The European Union is committed to working collectively to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of broader efforts to combat all forms of violence against women and girls, and to support the efforts of its Member States in this field. The European Commission has undertaken to assess EU efforts to combat FGM every year, on or around the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February. This publication is a further update of an 'at a glance' note originally ...

The European Union is committed to working collectively to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of broader efforts to combat all forms of violence against women and girls, and to support the efforts of its Member States in this field. The European Commission has undertaken to assess EU efforts to combat FGM every year, on or around the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February. This publication is a further update of an 'at a glance' note originally published in January 2015.

Migration and border management: Heading 4 of the 2021-2027 MFF

23-01-2020

The Treaty of Lisbon makes explicit reference to pooling financial resources to support common policies on asylum, immigration and external borders. While expenditure for these policy areas still represents a minor share of the EU budget, it has recently increased in the wake of the 2015-2016 refugee crisis. Since the resources available under the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF) of the EU proved insufficient to address the crisis, EU institutions had to use the flexibility provisions ...

The Treaty of Lisbon makes explicit reference to pooling financial resources to support common policies on asylum, immigration and external borders. While expenditure for these policy areas still represents a minor share of the EU budget, it has recently increased in the wake of the 2015-2016 refugee crisis. Since the resources available under the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF) of the EU proved insufficient to address the crisis, EU institutions had to use the flexibility provisions of the MFF extensively. Given the increasing salience of the policy areas, the European Commission has proposed the establishment of a specific heading devoted to migration and border management worth €30.8 billion (2018 prices) in the 2021-2027 MFF. As compared with the current period, these allocations would represent a significant increase in relative terms, especially as regards border management. The heading would finance two funding instruments, the Asylum and Migration Fund (AMF) and the Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF), as well as the activities of relevant EU decentralised agencies, such as the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the European Asylum Support Office. By designing these new funds, the European Commission seeks to improve synergies with other EU funding instruments and increase capacity to react to evolving needs. Negotiations for the MFF package are very complex, involving different legislative procedures for the adoption of the overall MFF and the sector-specific instruments. The European Parliament, the Council and the European Council are working on the proposals, which have also triggered reactions from other stakeholders, including academics, think-tanks and commentators.

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