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The new EU pact on migration and asylum

The new EU pact on migration and asylum was approved by the European Parliament

The European Parliament approved 10 legislative texts for the reform of the EU’s policy on migration and asylum, which had been agreed in principle with the member states in December.

Solidarity among EU countries and assumption of responsibilities

In order to support the EU countries that are under pressure from migration flows, the other member states will contribute in the future in three ways: either asylum seekers or people enjoying international protection will be transferred to their territory, or they will contribute financially, or they will provide operational and technical support. In addition, the so-called Dublin rules will be revised, i.e., the criteria on the basis of which it is determined which member state is responsible for examining applications for international protection.

The Parliament approved the regulation for the management of asylum and immigration presented by the rapporteur Tomas TOBÉ (EPP, Sweden), with 322 votes in favour, 266 against and 31 abstentions.

Crisis Management

The regulation for dealing with crisis situations and force majeure creates a mechanism that helps EU countries manage cases of sudden increase in migrant and refugee arrivals, while at the same time ensuring solidarity and support for member states facing an exceptionally large influx of third-country nationals. The new rules will also cover cases where migrants are instrumentalized by third countries or by hostile non-state actors with the aim of destabilizing the EU.

The MEPs approved the text presented by the rapporteur Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR (Socialists, Spain) with 301 votes in favour, 272 against and 46 abstentions.

Control of third-country nationals at EU borders

Those who do not meet the conditions to enter the EU will be checked before they are allowed entry, during which they will undergo identification, collection of biometric data, and health and safety checks. This process will last up to seven days. Member states are obliged to create independent control mechanisms to ensure respect for fundamental rights.

The text presented by the rapporteur Birgit SIPPEL (Socialists, Germany) was approved with 366 votes in favour, 229 against and 26 abstentions. MEPs also approved new rules for the central information system on convictions (ECRIS-TCN), with 414 votes in favour, 182 against and 29 abstentions.

Faster asylum procedures

The pact on migration and asylum establishes a common European procedure for granting and withdrawing international protection status. In the future, asylum applications at the EU borders should be processed faster, while shorter deadlines will apply for applications deemed unfounded or inadmissible.

The text presented by the rapporteur Fabienne KELLER (Renew, France) was approved with 301 votes in favour, 269 against and 51 abstentions. As for the return procedure at the borders, the result of the vote was 329 votes in favour, 253 against and 40 abstentions.

Eurodac Regulation

The data of those who enter the EU irregularly, including fingerprints and photos of individuals aged six and over, will be stored in the revised Eurodac database. In the future, authorities will also be able to record if someone may pose a security risk, if they exhibited violent behaviour or if they were armed.

The text presented by the rapporteur Jorge BUXADÉ VILLALBA (ECR, Spain) was approved with 404 votes in favour, 202 against and 16 abstentions.

Rules for the recognition of refugee status

The Parliament also approved the establishment of new European rules for all member states regarding the recognition of refugee or subsidiary protection status, as well as regarding the rights granted to those entitled to protection. Member states will have to assess the situation in the country of origin based on information from the EU Asylum Agency, while the refugee status will be regularly reviewed. Applicants for protection must remain on the territory of the member state responsible for their application or where protection was granted.

The text presented by the rapporteur Matjaž NEMEC (Socialists, Slovenia) was approved with 340 votes in favour, 249 against and 34 abstentions.

Reception of asylum seekers

Member states will have to ensure similar reception standards for asylum seekers in terms of, for example, housing, education and health care. Registered asylum seekers will be able to start working at the latest six months after submitting their application. Rules will also apply to detention conditions and the restriction of free movement, so as to discourage asylum seekers from moving within the EU.

The text presented by the rapporteur Sophie IN 'T VELD (Renew, Netherlands) was approved with 398 votes in favour, 162 against and 60 abstentions.

Safe and legal passage to Europe

According to the new framework for resettlement and admission for humanitarian reasons, member states will undertake, on a voluntary basis, to welcome refugees from other countries, recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who will arrive on EU territory in a legal, organized, and safe manner. The text presented by the rapporteur Malin BJÖRK (Sweden, Left) was approved with 452 votes in favour, 154 votes against and 14 abstentions.

Next steps

Once the Council formally approves the new package of measures, the rules will come into force after their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and are expected to start being implemented in two years. As for the directive on reception conditions, member states will have two years at their disposal to incorporate the changes into their national legislation.

With the approval of the pact, the Parliament responds to the expectations of citizens for the strengthening of the EU’s role in addressing all forms of irregular migration and the strengthening of the protection of the external borders of the European Union, with parallel respect for human rights, the uniform application of common rules in all member states regarding the country of reception of migrants, the strengthening of the EU’s role and the reform of the European asylum system based on the principles of solidarity and fair distribution of responsibilities, as formulated in proposals 42(2), 43(1), 43(2), 44(1), 44(2), 44(3) and 44(4) of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

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