European Commission faces lawsuit for missing deadline
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Meanwhile, one German NGO has said the new pact “threatens to abolish the rule of law at the external borders”. According to the Commission’s roadmap for changing EU migration policy, it expects the migrant proposal to be adopted by the European Parliament in “Q2 2021”.
That would be the end of June 2021 – just nine months after they were proposed by the Commission.
The Commission said in the roadmap that the European Parliament should adopt many of the other proposals on border regulation and crisis preparedness by the end of this year.
The new proposals put forward by the Commission would see pre-entry screening of migrants attempting to enter EU member states, including identification checks, and fingerprint registration on the EU’s centralised database.
EU countries will be legally required to make “solidarity” contributions, based on their gross domestic product and population size.
Their solidarity contribution will vary depending on whether there is “a scenario of rescue operations at sea, a situation of pressure or an acute crisis”.
However, member states will be able to choose how to show their “solidarity” with one another, including accepting asylum seekers into their country, taking on the responsibility of returning “rejected” asylum seekers, or providing “operational support”.
Under the new plans, the EU would appoint a new Return Coordinator.
According to NGO Pro Asyl, the new rules would mean that “during the screening procedure and the border procedure, [non-EU migrants] are considered as not having entered the country.”
It added: “As many as possible are to be sent back immediately from the border.
“However, fair asylum procedures will not exist in mass camps at the border.”
Refugee Rights Europe also responded to the proposals, stating: “Rather than observing rights principles, the Pact is instead riddled with almost-certain risks of fundamental rights violations.
“They have seemingly been designed as a framework to facilitate and justify unlawful returns and refoulement, as well as the obstruction of access to the EU asylum system.
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“It doesn’t take an expert to understand that this will lead to a further degradation of safeguarding of vulnerable people, as well as the basic human dignity and rights that supposedly lay at the foundation of the European project.”
The new proposals also received a mixed response from the European Parliament.
According to a Parliamentary report at the end of September, “During the debate with Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, MEPs requested more concrete information about how the pact would be applied on the ground and enforced.
“Some considered the initiative to be a positive step to help EU counries [sic] where most of the asylum seekers first arrive, while others described it as the only way forward from the current situation.
“However, MEPs also questioned whether the new rules will prevent another humanitarian disaster such as the recent fire in the Moria refugee camp and wondered whether the new screening and border procedures would respect fundamental rights.”
In September last year, a fire destroyed Greece’s largest migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, leaving nearly 13,000 without shelter.
In her state of the union address last year, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would “take a human and humane approach.
Saving lives at sea was “not optional”, she claimed, “and those countries who fulfil their legal and moral duties or are more exposed than others.”
She added: “Everybody has to step up here and take responsibility.”
In 2020, Syrian, Afghan and Venezuelan asylum seekers ranked as the top three among EU applicants.
The majority of asylum seekers were taken by Germany, Spain and France.
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