Policy Focus: Migration and Asylum

EU Migration policy featured heavily in 2021 as MEPs considered the merit of the European Commission’s Asylum and Migration Pact proposals
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Migration and asylum are always controversial and emotive topics for the EU. In the past year, the issue took on several new dimensions following the West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, issues surrounding Brexit and the UK and the situation on the EU’s borders with Belarus.

Meanwhile asylum applications in Europe fell to their lowest level in ten years, as borders closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Midway through the year, we asked three MEPs involved in the migration and asylum policy debate, Tomas Tobé, Juan Fernando López Aguilar and Beata Kempa to comment on what they wanted from the Commission’s Asylum and Migration Pact proposals.

Tomas Tobé (SE, EPP): The EU’s duty of care

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“Migration is, and will continue to be, a major challenge for Europe,” wrote Swedish EPP deputy Tomas Tobé midway through the year, adding that agreeing a common EU response to the problems of migration was therefore “essential”.

The Chair of the European Parliament’s Development (DEVE) Committee and rapporteur on the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee report on Asylum and Migration Management, explained that part of the problem was that currently, responsibility for migration is not shared between all 27 Member States, but primarily between the five countries bordering the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, France, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden are the main destination countries of secondary movement. Therefore, “there must be mandatory and meaningful solidarity among frontline states, but the options must be flexible for contributing Member States”.

“Compulsory relocation for all is not going to work.” He argued, adding, “the political deadlock will only continue”.

Read Tomas Tobé's full article here.

Fernando López Aguilar (ES, S&D): An EU Solidarity pact

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Spanish S&D deputy Juan Fernando López Aguilar argued, back in July, that any new EU rules needed to be comprehensive, holistic, consistent with European values and law and effective when it comes to enforcement.

“There have been eight separate EU laws and an asylum package with no less than nine legislative acts. The Gordian Knot among these packages - the seemingly unsolvable problem - is the Dublin Regulation, which assigns responsibility for managing asylum claims and humanitarian protection to the country of first entry,” explained López Aguilar, the Chair of Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee.

He argued that despite having been in place for some time, the implementation and performance of the EU’s migration and asylum packages suffered from two persistent shortcomings; an unfair distribution of responsibilities, with reception capacities of many southern countries with maritime borders saturated because of their vulnerable position to the influx of irregular migration and too many breaches of European law by a growing number of Member States, led by the governments of Hungary and Poland, which he dubbed, “the champions of the lack of solidarity”.

Read Juan Fernando López Aguilar’s full article here.


Beata Kempa (PL, ECR):  A step in the right direction

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Rounding off our trio of MEPs commenting on the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, Polish ECR Group deputy Beata Kempa argued that the EU needed to focus more energy on addressing the root causes of migration, argues member of Parliament’s Development Committee, Beata Kempa.

The Development (DEVE) Committee member explained that as most of the EU’s migration challenges have their roots outside Europe it was necessary to address and work on eliminating the root causes of migration to Europe.

Kempa argued that the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – ‘Global Europe’ could potentially be a key tool in reducing migration flows by stimulating the economic growth and development of partner countries.

“Addressing the root causes and drivers of forced and irregular migration is not only in our interests, but also in the interests of our partner countries, as it contributes to the sustainable and long-term development of their nations too, she explained.

Read Beata Kempa’s full article here.

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