EU agrees immigration reforms

Lazy eyes listen


The EU has decided to limit the number of migrants entering the bloc and to more equitably distribute the distribution and costs of hosting immigrants. The restrictions are slated to go into effect next year, but human rights groups say they would cause a “surge in suffering” for asylum seekers.

Following two days of negotiations between EU member states and the European Parliament, the criteria, known as the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, were accepted in principle early on Wednesday.

Countries facing migrant surges will be given additional leeway in handling asylum applications under the terms of the agreement, which is still subject to formal approval. Furthermore, the new approach requires governments to choose between receiving refugees and paying for them.

A screening system will also be implemented to distinguish between migrants who need international protection and those who don’t.

The plan “will ensure that there is an effective European response to this European challenge,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said on Wednesday. “It means that Europeans will decide who comes to the EU and who can stay, not the smugglers. It means protecting those in need.” 

However, several aspects of the agreement have concerned human rights organisations. People whose asylum applications are deemed unlikely to succeed, or who are deemed a potential threat to European security, can be detained at the border, prompting harsh criticism from Amnesty International.

According to Amnesty International, the pact “will result in an increase in suffering.” According to the organisation, the measure will “weaken the rights of asylum seekers” while failing to “address urgent issues in European asylum and protection systems.”

Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Left group called the accord “the most significant attack on asylum and migration rights since the EU was founded.”

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, praised the agreement, saying it will bring consistency to the EU’s migration policies, but admitting sacrifices are necessary. Germany had requested a “general exception for children and families from border protections,” she said.

According to UN figures, migrant arrivals in the EU are down from a high of over 1 million in 2015, yet numbers have been growing since 2020, according to the European Commission.