The S&D Group welcomes the Commission’s long-awaited new Pact on Migration and Asylum based on solidarity, which includes a commitment to end ad hoc solutions to migration and asylum and overhaul the Dublin Regulation.
However, S&D MEPs have concerns about the lack of a permanent mandatory relocation mechanism in the new proposals to ensure that all member states take their fair share of responsibility.
Kati Piri, S&D vice-president on migration, said:
“We are glad to see proposals for a new Pact on Migration and Asylum finally on the table. And it is very important that the right to asylum in Europe and individual assessments remain in place. For years, governments have blocked much-needed reforms which have resulted in too many ad hoc solutions. However, the horrific events in Moria in recent weeks made new sustainable proposals even more urgent.
“While it is positive to see that the Commission wants a Pact based on solidarity, we have to be clear what we really mean. For the S&D Group, solidarity is not just about supporting member states, but also helping the people in desperate need of protection. We cannot turn our back on vulnerable people and we need member states to take their responsibility.
“For the new Pact on Migration and Asylum to be a real game changer, there needs to be a permanent mandatory relocation mechanism in place. This is the only way to improve the situation on the ground and improve mutual trust among member states.
“We will look carefully at the Commission’s proposals but we have been clear about what this new Pact has to do: uphold the individual right to asylum in the EU and have a mandatory mechanism in place to distribute refugees fairly with all member states taking responsibility.”
Birgit Sippel, spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
“For the Commission’s new Pact on Migration and Asylum to have real solidarity at its heart, we rightly need to give more support to countries at the EU’s external borders, but we also have to safeguard the fundamental rights of people seeking protection. The Commission’s new proposals, in their current form, do not guarantee real solidarity.
“With only a few countries responsible for the majority of arrivals, for example Greece, Cyprus and Malta, the status quo is neither fair nor sustainable. However, the new proposals only call for solidarity in specific situations, or you might say, in exceptional circumstances. Solidarity has to be the rule, not the exception. The new concept of return sponsorships at best risks undermining the idea of genuine European solidarity and at worst translates divisions into policy with some countries taking their fair share of responsibility and others preferring to run away from that responsibility.
“The new Pact leaves many unanswered questions on what really happens to people at external borders. Locking up migrants as soon as they reach the external borders of the EU, like in Moria, must stop. We need more clarity from the Commission that people will not be spending months on end in detention as they face different asylum procedures.”