Press play to listen to this article
Expressed by artificial intelligence.
LUXEMBOURG — EU countries have finally achieved the (almost) impossible: reach an agreement on migration.
Late Thursday, 21 EU countries pushed through what they hailed as a “historic” deal to reshape – for the first time in years – the way the continent processes and relocates asylum seekers.
If the pact reaches final negotiations with the European Parliament, it could change the face of European migration. Fights and changes are inevitable, and no one knows exactly how the politics itself would play out.
For now, the agreement strikes a balance between two main camps: border countries who want more help to manage asylum seekers and those in the interior who argue that too many migrants are arriving and moving without authorization. within the EU.
Under the deal, frontline states would be required to introduce a stricter asylum procedure at the border for people deemed unlikely to be accepted. They would also have more leeway to fire rejected applicants.
Elsewhere, EU countries would have the choice of accepting a certain number of migrants each year or contributing to a common EU fund.
Proponents hail the deal as a creative middle ground, offering aid to border states without forcing other countries to take in asylum seekers.
But migration advocates fear that expanding asylum controls at the border will simply proliferate the number of inhumane detention centers where people will remain for months.
Although the actual legal text has yet to be released, POLITICO unpacks the details and answers critical questions about how the potential deal could really affect EU migration.
Would this change the asylum procedure in Europe?
Dramatically – maybe.
According to the agreement, the new EU asylum system would contain two tracks: a stricter asylum procedure carried out directly at the border, which could include a short period of detention, and another more permissive procedure. The screening would determine where each person goes.
The decisive factor: whether the authorities believe that the migrant has a chance of being accepted or not. Those deemed unlikely to receive protection would likely head for the stricter route. The aim would be to process each request at the border within 12 weeks.
Yet in a key concession to southern European countries, governments would be allowed to freeze the tougher protocol if it hits a certain threshold of applicants. This figure should start at 30,000 for the EU and should increase each year until it reaches 120,000. Within this figure, each country would have its own threshold.
Once the limit is reached, the hardest procedure would be frozen.
What would this mean for failed asylum seekers?
A faster departure to more countries – and not necessarily the one where they lived before.
This subject ultimately proved to be the thorniest of the negotiations, with Germany and Italy fighting to the bitter end. Italy has long wanted more options for sending failed asylum seekers, but Germany has opposed it, arguing that the EU cannot send people to countries that do not fully respect rights of man.
The final deal ended up mostly siding with Italy, which was backed by nearly 10 countries on the issue. While the principle of human rights will remain at EU level, it will be up to each country to determine whether a third country actually complies with international human rights standards.
The widespread belief among those involved in the talks is that Italy would use the clause to send failed asylum seekers to Tunisia, which has become a popular stopover for those heading to Europe.
Officially, according to a draft text seen by POLITICO, a migrant must have “stayed” or “settled” in a country, or have family there, to be sent there.
But migrant advocates fear the EU has no power to compel every member to uphold that standard, leading each country to simply bend the rules to its advantage.
Would the deal relocate migrants across Europe?
Yes, but not everywhere.
For years, the bipolar debate in Europe has pitted countries like Italy, which wanted “compulsory relocation” of migrants across the EU, against countries like Poland and Hungary, which flatly rejected the suggestion.
The landing spot for the deal is a classic Brussels workaround that has been dubbed “compulsory solidarity”.
If necessary, the EU’s aim would be to relocate at least 30,000 migrants each year, but countries would have the choice of taking in people or paying €20,000 for each migrant they do not accept.
In a last-minute concession to Italy, the money could go into a collective kitty that the EU will use to fund undefined “projects” abroad.
The clause is interpreted as a way for the EU to essentially give money to countries like Tunisia – a sentiment that was only reinforced when the Commission announced that President Ursula von der Leyen would visit Tunisia with Italian leader Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. the weekend.
Even this compromise has left some countries furious, with Polish officials having already threatening to boycott the required payments – in addition to rejecting any additional people, given the million Ukrainian refugees the country hosts.
Every EU negotiation is byzantine and multilevel. This one is no different.
While EU countries now have enough support for the deal, they still have to deal with parliament.
Already, many on the left have raised concerns about the Border Response Procedure, which they say could simply create more detention centers along EU borders. There are also frustrations about the expanded return policy and the prospect of simply paying outside countries to take on more responsibility.
Yet the deal is seen as the EU’s best chance to overhaul its fractured asylum process and spread migrants more evenly across the continent since 2016, when the war in Syria sparked a rush of refugees seeking refuge in Syria. Europe.
As things stand, this week’s agreement puts the EU on track to finalize the whole package before the European elections next June.
Deal or no deal – expect it to be an election question.