Some MEPs considered the new Migration Pact a “step in the right direction”, to help front-line countries, and others admitted it might be the only way forward, given the position of several EU member states.
This emerged during the debate about the European Commission’s (EC) proposals on migration.The new proposal set out improved and faster procedures throughout the asylum and migration system and it sets in balance the principles of fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity between countries. The EC states that this is crucial for rebuilding trust between Member States and confidence in the capacity of the European Union to manage migration.
The debate gave rise to a number of questions. Many speakers referred to the situation on Lesvos, following the fire in Moria refugee camp, and asked whether the new rules will prevent that humanitarian disaster from being repeated. They raised questions about whether fundamental rights will be respected in the new screening and border procedures and the detention of asylum-seekers. Several regretted that the Commission has not removed the contentious principle of the current Dublin Regulation, that the country of first-entry must deal with an asylum-claim.
EU countries that do not want to transfer refugees to their territory would be given the option to sponsor returns of those without a right to stay instead; MEPs wondered what will happen if most member states opt for the latter. There were also questions raised about the enforcement mechanisms to ensure the new rules are effectively applied.
Some MEPs complained that cooperation with third countries does not include the establishment of hotspots to process asylum requests outside European territory and insisted the EU must be tougher on smugglers.