Brussels wants asylum reforms completed before 2019 elections

European Commission calls time on asylum reform stalling


European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans


The European Commission has demanded that member states and MEPs adopt outstanding reform proposals on migration and asylum as the EU remains stuck on a common asylum policy.

Frans Timmermans, the EC’s vice-president, said he wants the reforms to be agreed ahead of the 2019 European elections, where the European right is expected to gain more seats at the expense of the centre-left.

“The Union’s comprehensive approach to migration management is delivering tangible results. After four years, it is now essential to consolidate this comprehensive approach by switching from reactive ad hoc responses to completing the reforms for a sustainable future proof migration and asylum system. This can and should be done before the European parliamentary elections in the interest of all Member States.”

The EU wants to move forward on the Dublin Regulation, to find a compromise that ensures full solidarity for member states, especially those on borders which tend to be receive first-time applicants for asylum.

The law effectively presents asylum-shopping by sending migrants that move onto secondary countries back to the EU country where they came in from.

High Representative Federica Mogherini said the EU has helped over 34,000 people to voluntarily return to their homes, with reintegration assistance, and evacuated over 2,000 refugees from Libya for further resettlement.

Along the Eastern Mediterranean Route, arrivals dropped by 97% after the EU-Turkey Statement and today remain 90% less than at the peak in 2015. Along the Central Mediterranean route irregular flows have been reduced by 80%.

EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia apprehended 151 suspected smugglers since 2015 and the Joint Investigation Team’s actions in Niger resulting in 221 arrests. Over €4 billion was mobilised under the EU Trust Fund for Africa, and 12 guarantee tools worth €800 million adopted under the External Investment Plan.

In September, the Commission proposed to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard further and equip the Agency with a standing corps of 10,000 border guards to ensure that Member States can rely on full EU operational support at all times.

While compromise is still needed on some elements of the EU’s asylum reform, significant progress has been made overall, with five out of the Commission’s initial seven proposals ready for adoption (Qualification Regulation, Reception Conditions Directive, European Asylum Agency Regulation, Eurodac Regulation, Union Resettlement Framework Regulation).

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