The European Union has agreed on a new framework to deal with future migration and asylum crises, after months of negotiations and amid a surge of arrivals in Italy.
The deal, announced on Wednesday by the European Commission, aims to provide certainty, clarity and decent conditions for people arriving in the EU, as well as solidarity and responsibility sharing among member states.
Under the new rules, countries facing a crisis situation or force majeure in the field of migration and asylum would be able to request support from other EU countries. This could include the relocation of asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection, the transfer of responsibility for examining asylum claims, or financial or alternative contributions.
The Council of the EU, representing member states, would authorise these measures based on the principles of necessity and proportionality and in full compliance with fundamental rights.
The new framework also establishes specific rules for the asylum and return procedures in crisis situations, such as extending the deadline for registering applications or applying the border procedure.
The agreement is part of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum proposed by the Commission in September 2020, which consists of a set of proposals to reform EU migration and asylum rules.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the deal as “a real game changer” and said it would allow the EU to move forward with the entire migration package by June 2024.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called it a “historic turning point” and said it would end the “unacceptable situation” of some countries bearing the brunt of migration flows.
However, some countries, such as Poland and Hungary, have expressed opposition to the new rules, arguing that they would encourage more irregular migration and undermine national sovereignty.
The deal will now have to be approved by the European Parliament, which has also been involved in the negotiations and has called for more ambitious and humane reforms.