Asylum and migration: the Council approves negotiating mandates on the Eurodac and screening regulations and 21 states adopt a declaration on solidarity
The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) today adopted several important first-stage texts on asylum and migration, based on the proposals presented by the Commission in the framework of the Pact on Migration and Asylum. Coreper adopted Council negotiating mandates on the Eurodac and screening regulations. In addition, 21 member states or associated states confirmed the adoption of a declaration on solidarity, providing for a voluntary solidarity contribution mechanism, in the form of relocations or other types of contributions, particularly financial contributions.
These decisions reflect the political approval at ministerial level at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 10 June 2022. This major step forward is part of the gradual approach proposed by the presidency to reform the European Union’s migration and asylum policy, preserving at each stage an equivalent level of commitments on solidarity, responsibility and protection of the external border.
The Eurodac database is intended to help the member states to better monitor the paths of asylum seekers and persons in an irregular situation within the European Union. It contains the fingerprints of irregular migrants and asylum applicants who have been registered in EU member states and associated countries.
The text agreed today will make it possible to better tackle irregular movements and facilitate the return of people in an irregular situation. In particular, through this text, the database will make it possible to monitor asylum seekers, and no longer only to monitor applications, which will make it possible to better identify persons lodging multiple applications. The contents of the database are also enriched with new biometric data such as facial images. The regulation will also make it possible to complete interoperability with other European information systems.
In addition, a specific category has been included to identify persons brought ashore following search and rescue (SAR) operations at sea.
Furthermore, drawing lessons from the solutions put in place to respond to the influx of people fleeing the war in Ukraine, the Eurodac regulation creates an obligation to register beneficiaries of temporary protection.
This regulation contributes to strengthening controls on persons at the external borders and also to rapidly directing persons subject to screening towards the appropriate procedure.
The text agreed today provides that screening at the external borders will apply to all persons who do not fulfil the conditions for entry, including persons applying for international protection. This covers persons who have been apprehended in connection with an unauthorised crossing of the external border by land, sea or air, persons disembarked following a search and rescue operation (‘SAR’) at sea and persons who have made an application for international protection at external border crossing points or in transit zones but do not fulfil the conditions for entry. It also applies to persons apprehended on EU territory who have escaped external border controls.
Screening will include identification and security checks, but also health and vulnerability checks. The screening should, as a general rule, be carried out near the external borders or at other dedicated locations on the territory of the member states, over a maximum period of five days during which the persons must remain available to the national authorities. After screening, all the persons concerned will be referred to the competent authorities: asylum or, where applicable, relocation or return.
In addition, member states will have to put in place an independent mechanism to monitor respect for fundamental rights during screening.
On 23 September 2020, the Commission presented a Pact on Migration and Asylum, comprising a number of legislative and non-legislative proposals. This included new proposals, such as the screening regulation, as well as proposals revising texts presented in 2016 which had not yet been adopted, such as the Eurodac regulation.
In order to allow substantial progress to be made, the French presidency of the Council has proposed a ‘step-by-step’ or ‘gradual’ approach, maintaining a balance between the various dimensions, in particular between responsibility and solidarity.