Helena Lyng Blak
6 weeks ago

Nine Years After the Refugee Crisis: The EU Is Ready with a New Migration and Asylum Pact

The European Parliament gave its green light yesterday.
Lesbos, Greece - September 30, 2015: Refugees arrive on the boat from Turkey
Lesbos, Greece - September 30, 2015: Refugees arrive on the boat from Turkey. Photo: punghi / Shutterstock.com

In the fall of 2015, at the height of the Syrian civil war, Europe was met with a wave of refugees, fleeing war and political instability in the area. Pictures of massive groups of people walking along highways or crammed into boats, crossing the Mediterranean Sea took up large quantities of space in European news outlets and in the minds of European citizens.

In 2015 alone 1.2 million people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in attempts to reach Europe. In Italy and Greece the systems broke down. The two nations, which were the first EU countries many asylum seekers reached, simply could not handle the influx of people.

In the following years, the amount of asylum seekers in EU countries was on a steady decline, but in 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the number of asylum applications rose again, nearing 1 million in the EU in 2022.

Since 2015, according to Danmarks Radio, politicians all over Europe have been demanding legislation to ensure system that are better equipped to deal with the large quantities of humans applying for refugee status in Europe.

Introduction of the New Pact 

Yesterday afternoon, local time, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) gave their final approval to the European Union’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum. 

The European Commission originally presented the Pact in 2020. In late 2023, the European Parliament and Council reached a political agreement.

According to the EU, the new framework is intended to up the security of EU’s external borders, bring faster and more efficient procedures for asylum as well as stronger individual safeguards with return, and ultimately, a fair and more effective “system of solidarity and responsibility”. 

To achieve these goals, the EU will, among other things, be introducing new border procedures and regulations establishing new screening procedures which will include identification, health and security checks, registrering asylum seekers in the Eurodac fingerprint database. These screening procedures are intended to be carried out near the EU’s external borders within five days. 

Families with children under 12 and unaccompanied children will be exempt from border procedures. The definition of ‘family’ under family reunification will be enlarged to include siblings and new families formed in transit.

The Pact furthermore introduces a so-called “solidarity mechanism”.

This mechanism recognizes that “no Member State should shoulder a disproportionate responsibility and that all Member States should constantly contribute to solidarity.”

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