The European Commission on Wednesday is expected to present a package of proposals for the reform of EU migration policy. The goal is to achieve a more equitable distribution of the burden caused by the influx of migrants among all members of the European Union. According to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the new system will include “a powerful new mechanism of solidarity.” However, among the EU members there will certainly be dissatisfied with the planned innovations, so it will hardly be possible to completely overcome the split between the EU countries.
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke about the forthcoming reform of migration policy a week ago in her message to the members of the European Parliament. The European Union still does not have a formally uniform systemic policy in this area. European institutions can propose certain general measures and even insist on them, but it is far from always possible to agree on these requirements between all countries, and something remains unacceptable, and something stalls in practice. One of the legal mechanisms that have so far governed the EU’s response to forced migration to member states has been the so-called Dublin System, first approved in 1990. Proposals to revise this system have been heard for several years, but now the European Commission is assuring that it will be canceled.
Meanwhile, the Dublin Agreements contain an extensive list of criteria by which it is determined which state is responsible for examining applications for asylum.
The most important point is about the first border crossing: in other words, the problem of refugees in most cases should be solved by those EU countries that were the first on their way.
“The Dublin system of European legal norms does not answer the question of who to give and who not to give asylum, but allows you to determine which state should consider the application on the merits. In recent years, in fact, this burden has been borne mainly by Greece and Italy. They were suffocating from their burden and expecting the distribution of responsibility in accordance with the promises of solidarity that they have been hearing from Europe for decades, but they saw real solidarity, probably only from Germany, “Yekaterina Kiseleva, associate professor of the Department of International Law at RUDN University, told Kommersant.
She noted that “in an ideal situation, countries would have to accept a certain number of forced migrants who entered the EU, in proportion to specific indicators – for example, the size of GDP and GDP per capita”. Meanwhile, as Ms Kiseleva emphasized, for the crisis of the last five years, the Dublin system turned out to be not the instrument that can provide satisfactory answers and solutions for all countries. But a complete rejection of it, added the interlocutor of Kommersant, “looks risky”: “Other large-scale initiatives on migration do not impose legal obligations on the member states in terms of burden sharing and, despite half a century of EU statements of solidarity, they leave virtually without support. countries that need it so badly. And there is no guarantee that a new beautiful document will actually solve the problem. “
The 2015–2016 crisis forced the search for a new approach to solving the general migration problem.
At that time, dozens and then hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East poured into the bordering EU member states – primarily Italy, Greece, Spain, and also Hungary. Targeted measures, agreed with difficulty and sometimes in a raised voice by European leaders, have reduced the number of asylum applications from 2.4 million in 2015-2016 to 1.8 million in 2017-2019. Nevertheless, until now, individual EU countries could afford to stay away from the discussion and even refuse to accept refugees and redistribute them within the EU, as required by the European Commission.
At the same time, the problem of further arrangement of those whose applications were successful became acute. In recent weeks, discussions on the topic have been sharply exacerbated by a massive fire that virtually destroyed the Moriah migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. While the police are investigating whether it was a fire or arson, committed after news of coronavirus cases in the camp, the Greek authorities and European officials had to urgently decide where to relocate almost 13 thousand people left without a roof over their heads. Some of them are still awaiting a decision on their applications for asylum, but some were already formally protected by the EU and continued to live in inhuman, as many high-ranking camp visitors believed, conditions. “Moriah is not normal. Migration is okay. And we have to cope, ”European Commissioner for Internal Affairs Ilva Johansson said emphatically at the end of last week.
What will be in the new document, which the European Commission is preparing to publish, is not yet known exactly.
Ms von der Leyen mentioned the “humanistic” approach, tough measures against the organizers of illegal migration, strengthening of the external borders of the EU and cooperation with third countries.
However, all these areas of work the EU countries have already tried to activate in recent years. According to Reuters, solidarity in accepting refugees will become mandatory – in exchange for EU funding of € 10,000 per adult. In any case, the question of refusing to accept migrants is not worth it – rather, Brussels intends to propose how to deal with the consequences of a problem that cannot be solved.
“These proposals of the European Commission should have been made much earlier. But initiatives in the field of migration have invariably caused disagreements between the EU countries, so the preparation took a long time, ”said Rosa Balfour, director of the Carnegie Europe think tank, in an interview with Kommersant. In her opinion, one should not expect a revolutionary reform: the task of the European Commission now is to smooth out the split between the EU countries, and not completely solve the problem. “Rather, everyone will remain dissatisfied with the new proposals, everyone will lose something and gain something,” Ms. Balfour believes. “And this will allow the countries to continue negotiations on the essence of the issue.”