NGOs, civil society organizations, opinion makers, religious leaders, advocacy groups, have been demanding for new legal pathways to Europe, a reform of the Dublin treaty, ideas to reduce pull factors, respect for the plights of the newcomers, an harmonization of asylum procedures and standards, solutions to ease burden on frontline states and on the same time better boarder protection.
Well, the European Commission answered those calls today by unveiling ( read here press release) a process for a reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). A process that would lead to a mechanism based on fairer common asylum system based on solidarity and fair burden-sharing on the distribution of asylum seekers. An asylum migration and border system to be future-proof, wrote Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in a tweet that attests his copywriting skills.
Changing the national approaches that have fuelled asylum shopping and irregular migration, is indeed the catchy quote expressed by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. No doubts that when it comes to communication, Avramopoulos and Timmermans showed an impressive set of skills and creativity.
It is completely unfair to expect frontline European countries already struggling to deal with this crisis to bear the highest burden, while others fail to pull their weight in supporting both refugees and the countries hosting them. The proposals to strengthen responsibility-sharing among EU countries head broadly in the right direction – but there is potential for plenty of devils to lurk in the detail, particularly if they rely significantly on sanctions and coercion.When it comes to creating a single common asylum procedure, there is a real risk that the impetus will be to harmonise downwards in an attempt to render the EU inaccessible to asylum seekers. This has to be resisted.
As explained by Reuters, the Commission has put on the table to main options:
A first option presented by the European Commission would add a "corrective fairness mechanism" that would relocate asylum seekers from frontline states to elsewhere in the bloc - a method now being employed on an ad hoc basis.
A second is to create a new system that would ignore where people arrived in the EU and send them around the bloc according to a "permanent distribution key".
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel we need the system that we have in place to work more effectively, with clarity on states' responsibilities and support for those facing the largest number of arrivals. Between now and the detailed proposals from the European Commission we need to see governments and parliaments making it clear that a better implementation of the current system is the only option available to stabilise the crisis.
The new rules will need to be agreed by EU member states and the European parliament.
Cover Photo: Getty/ BULENT KILIC