human development, social justice and sustainable social systems
On the new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum
First take on the European Commission's announcement
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On September 23th, the European Commission presented the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, composed of 12 documents, including several legislative proposals, which will now be negotiated by the European Parliament and EU Member States. This long-awaited Pact aims at unlocking the deadlock in the reform of EU asylum rules by striking a balance between different EU Member States’ perspectives. The complexity of the Pact alludes to the complex nature of migration and the multitude of different views on the subject.
European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas referred to the Pact during its launch as a three-story house, which summarises well the main elements of the Pact:
1. Cooperation with third countries on migration and development to decrease migratory movements;
2. Fast border and return procedures to quickly distinguish between those entailed to protection and those not;
3. Enhanced responsibility sharing within the EU for people in need of protection.
As always, Caritas Europa analysed the Pact through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching and in consideration of the potential consequences the Pact will have on the lives of migrants and refugees. Heeding updates from our members, who provide emergency relief and are active in asylum reception and long-term migration integration, as well as input from our development partners oversees, we regret the overwhelming focus on return, border control, and migration prevention through intensifying cooperation with countries of origin and transit.
On a more positive note, we acknowledge several positive developments such as: provisions to protect the right of the child and family unity; attempts to pay more attention to the protection of fundamental rights at the borders; and efforts to promote a more positive narrative on migration and integration; as well as commitments to tackle legal migration in the near future. Another noteworthy and very welcome proposal is the reduced time period for recognised refugees to be eligible to obtain a long term legal status to just three years of legal residency instead of the previous five.
This is a non-exhaustive first take on the Pact. We will continue to monitor the situation in the months to come and look forward to constructive dialogues with EU and national policy makers to ensure that the framework and forthcoming negotiation will preserve the right to asylum and fundamental rights, and will bring about more solidarity and responsibility sharing among EU Member States. In the meantime, we provide a brief assessment on key areas of concern in the Pact.