The failure to date of the EU asylum system to cope with ever-rising numbers of migrant arrivals calls for a radical overhaul of the so-called Dublin rules, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Wednesday. They propose establishing a central system for collecting and allocating asylum applications. The scheme, which could include a quota for each EU member state, would work on the basis of “hotspots” from which refugees would be distributed.
The proposed revision of the Dublin III Regulation (which determines which member state is responsible for processing which asylum application) is set out in a resolution voted by the committee. The text, drafted by Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT) and Kashetu Kyenge (S&D, IT) was approved by 44 votes to 11, with one abstention. “The severity of the situation is immense. Last year 3,771 people drowned in our seas. This year already more than 450 people, including 77 children, have died. As politicians, we have a duty to ensure that these are not just nameless statistics. These are real people, with real lives. We must all do better -indifference is not an option. It is time for action on every aspect – and this is what this report calls for”, said Ms Metsola.
“Europe needs to take a global approach to migration based on the principle of solidarity between states. A global management is required that enacts the principle of solidarity between countries, apportions responsibility equally and places the value of life and fundamental rights at the centre of the processes”, added Ms Kyenge. The text underlines that the current asylum system does not take proper account of the particular migratory pressures faced by member states with EU external borders. MEPs demand changes to ensure fairness and shared responsibility, solidarity and swift processing of applications.
In 2015, it notes, 1.83 million persons were detected attempting to cross EU external borders irregularly (up from 282,500 in 2014), and 1.4 million applications for international protection were lodged in the EU, Norway and Switzerland, with numbers rising steadily since April.
Relocation and resettlement
The text calls on member states to fulfil their obligations with regard to urgent relocation measures, stressing that by 3 March 2016, only 660 out of 106,000 asylum seekers who were awaiting reassignment from Italy and Greece to other EU countries had actually been relocated.
On resettlement, MEPs insist that the EU needs a “binding and mandatory legislative approach”, adding that to have an impact, this must provide for the resettlement of a “meaningful” number of refugees with regard to the overall numbers of those seeking asylum in the Union.
On the functioning of “hotspots”, the Civil Liberties Committee calls for technical and financial assistance for member states of first arrival, such as Italy and Greece, to enable them to register all migrants, and asks the countries concerned to accept support. MEPs also highlight the vulnerable position of minors, especially those travelling alone, and call for a child-sensitive protection system to prevent abuse and exploitation.
The report voices concern at the decision of some member states to close their internal borders or introduce temporary controls, since these measures put into question the proper functioning of the Schengen Area.
MEPs advocate new EU-wide “readmission” agreements which they say should take precedence over bilateral ones between member states and third countries. They insist that migrants should be returned only if the country to which they are being returned to is safe for them.
The report will be voted in the next plenary session on 9 April in Strasbourg.
Procedure: non-legislative resolution