The 23rd of September the European Commission will publish the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. Our vision of a European pact is based on human rights, accountability, safety and solidarity. This is a chance to change.
The publishing of the Pact represents an important event since it will define the guidelines, concepts and approaches that will inform European policies on migration for the next five years. While ASGI very much hopes that the New Pact will mark a new starting point for the EU Immigration and asylum policies, the Roadmap1 presented by Commission at the end of July 2020 raised concerns. The language used in the consultation document is inspired by the same focus and philosophy as used in the last years. Instead of focusing on “the fight against irregular migration” and the externalisation of borders, Europe should adopt a much more positive and rights-based approach towards migration/asylum.
After publishing the roadmap, the Commission gave the chance to send feedbacks and proposals for the Pact. We have submitted our proposal in 10 points which represents our vision of an European pact. The complete list of all proposals presented by citizens, organizations and associations is available on the European Commission website. We particularly recommend reading the proposals from PICUM, ECRE, PRO ASYL – Refugee Support Aegean, Refugee Rights Europe.
ASGI hopes for this New Pact to:
1) Favour transparent and equal cooperation with third countries in order to open safe entry channels for foreign citizens. On the contrary, the EU should suspend any form of cooperation with third countries aimed at containing migration flows through coercive systems.
2) Increase the possibilities of regular entry and stay in Europe implementing an adequate visa policy and facilitating access to the territory of the European Union for those who have been forced to leave their area of origin not only because of individual persecution, risks of serious harm and conflict situations but also because of the protracted crisis situation or the absence of minimum conditions of survival due to rapid or slow onset of climate or environmental changes. In addition, any European policy measure should move away from the focus on channelling people either into international protection or return procedure. It should furthermore encourage the use of regularisations schemes.
3) Guarantee a rights-based and transparent management of European internal and external borders. European borders are not and will never be closed like the Berlin Wall was. Displaced people traveling through those borders are rights-holders and have notably the right to apply for asylum and to be protected against refoulement, inhumane and degrading treatment and arbitrary detention. Border guards and border agencies (such as also Frontex) should have clear and transparent mandates, which should also foresee clear and easy-to-use democratic controls and reviews mechanisms.
4) Prepare European search and rescue operations at sea and cease any policy of criminalising NGOs involved in SAR operations and obstructing their work. Clear mechanisms for cooperation between institutions and NGOs need to be established in order to ensure that people rescued by civil society organisations land immediately in the nearest European safe harbour.
5) Guarantee foreign nationals full and effective access to international protection procedures. The use of accelerated procedures at the borders should be suspended as they involve an inadequate assessment of protection applications. In addition, the EU should avoid the application of the safe third country and the safe country of origin concepts as they may lead to an automatic decision of inadmissibility in the absence of the necessary case-by-case assessment of requests for international protection.
6) Ensure full right for effective remedies for international protection applicants at all levels. In particular, it is important to ensure that appeals against the rejection of an asylum application have always suspensive effect, avoiding as such accelerated return procedures for denied asylum seekers, which would seriously undermine the effectiveness of the legal remedies.
7) Strengthen the full and harmonised implementation of the Common European Asylum System. The main focus should be given to the full implementation of the standards for reception systems and asylum procedures.
8) End or at least fundamentally reform the “Dublin system” in order to establish a reliable and systematic solidarity mechanism that guarantees asylum seekers’ rights and provides Member States with a framework for fair sharing of responsibilities.
9) Ensuring the full functioning of the Schengen system.
10) Guarantee the freedom of movement of protection holders.
The Commission uses a roadmap to define the scope of:
- a major new law or policy
- an evaluation of an existing law or policy
- a fitness check of a bundle of related existing laws and/or policies
Roadmaps describe the problem to be tackled and objectives to be met, explain why EU action is needed, outline policy options and describe the main features of the consultation strategy.
Sometimes the potential impact of a law or policy on the economy, environment or society is so great that an impact assessment is required. In that case, the roadmap is replaced by an inception impact assessment, which goes into greater detail (European Commission, Planning and proposing law).