MEPs back tighter screening of migrants

MEPs back tighter screening of migrants
Опубликовано: Tuesday, 28 March 2023 19:18

EU aims for more scrutiny on asylum-seekers and to speed up returns to home countries.


BRUSSELS — European lawmakers on Tuesday voted for tighter screening of migrants as they gave the green light to a central plank of the EU’s flagship migration package.

The new rules seek to speed up the return of migrants who entered Europe without permission and to prevent these migrants from traveling to other countries within Europe. The approved text, seen by POLITICO, includes fast-track processing of asylum-seekers who are unlikely to be successful — yet leaves the Dublin Treaty untouched.

Calls to reform the treaty, which puts the countries of first entry on the hook for handling migrants, have in the past floundered. But the new Migration and Asylum Pact attempts to keep the most recalcitrant member states on board while attempting to stem high migrant flows.

The three most powerful groups in Parliament — the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the center-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and centrist Renew — all backed the proposal.

With Tuesday’s vote in the Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee, the EU inched closer to completion of the Migration and Asylum Pact. The pact is expected to be adopted before the end of Parliament’s term in 2024, and has yet to be scrutinized by member states.

The pact supports a more stringent registration system in order to speed up the return of migrants under the Dublin rules. “[Tighter screening] could help discourage secondary movements in the Schengen area,” reads the text.

Swedish MEP Tomas Tobé, from the EPP, told POLITICO that the new system is “moving away from the former position of mandatory relocations” and will be “voluntary and flexible.”

EU countries that see fewer unpermitted migrants oppose mandatory relocation — that is, the forced distribution of asylum-seekers among EU states. The new package foresees voluntary relocation quotas determined by member states themselves.

The package does foresee such mandatory relocations during a migration crisis, defined as the “mass and sudden arrivals of third-country nationals.” The Commission would decide when to trigger the crisis mechanism.

Member states may well push back on this part of the text.

Spanish S&D MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar told reporters that “some governments do not want to talk about it [mandatory relocations].” He added: “I am well aware that at the end of the day, there will be some compromise that I will not like.”

Migrant arrivals in 2023 are roughly in line with the same period last year, according to the EU’s border agency Frontex, which reported 28,130 irregular border crossings to Europe in January and February this year.

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