New migration cooperation in the EU has long been high on the agenda, not least since the so-called refugee crisis in 2015. The development magazine explains what the EU's new migration pact is about - and the voices for and against it. Photo (left): Håkan Dahlström. Source: Wikimedia commons. Photo (right): Mstyslav Chernov. Source: Wikimedia commons.

Development magazine explains

Opportunities and risks with the EU's new migration pact

I April voted EU finally through one ny migration pact. While the wide middle in the European Parliament believes that the pact constitutes an important compromise and creates solidarity, both human rights organizations and voices critical of immigrants have criticized the agreement. The development magazine sort out the arguments for and emot the pact. 

After a nine-year process, the European Parliament voted through a new migration pact on 10 April. The pact is expected to enter into force within two years, at the latest in June 2026, and it will apply as a guiding document until the parliament decides on new principles. The process was led by Tomas Tobé (M), chief negotiator for asylum and migration management. Over the years, the negotiations have taken many turns, and the final solution has been regarded by many as one Kompromiß. Party groups on both the far left and right in parliament voted against the proposal, while a broad majority in between were favorably disposed to the pact. The final result was therefore 322 votes for and 256 against the pact. 31 parliamentarians abstained from voting. 

Extended checks at external borders

The new migration pact primarily means strengthened measures at border controls. Through a new database and ID system, information is saved on all asylum seekers, with clear rules to follow based on the persons' asylum status.  

Those who are positive sees the new system as an opportunity to be able to more easily identify which asylum seekers are in urgent need of resources. Those who seek entry primarily for economic reasons - and who do not have the right to asylum according to the EU's current requirements - can thus be located more quickly through the new systems. Among others, Sweden's EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson (S) sees the expanded controls as a major step forward.  

- Fler who come who do not have reasons for asylum will receive their process and return decision already at the border, Johansson has told TT.  

Critics, however, believe that the new system risks increasing pressure at the EU's external borders - something that is already a problem today, according to, among others, the non-governmental organization International Rescue Committee. The organization has warned that temporary refugee centers at the EU's external borders are inhumane, and that screening processes should therefore not be expanded there.  

Faster processes

A major problem for refugees and migrants has been the processing time for their cases, which according to the EU must now be shortened significantly. With the new systems, the goal is to final asylum decision must be made within 12 weeks. This can be compared to average processing times of over six months in several EU countries in recent years. 

A quick asylum application process can be rewarding for all parties, it says, among other things German EU Member of Parliament Jan-Christoph Oetjen, belonging to the party group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). It counteracts one excessive pressure and high costs at external borders, while preventing long waiting times etch unclear future messages for asylum seekers and migrants. 

But the human rights organization Amnesty International has criticized the new changes. Amnesty believes that fast processes will lead to hasty decisions without sufficiently in-depth investigations into each individual's right to asylum. This has also been emphasized by the human rights organization HIAS, who believe that interviews with asylum seekers risk taking place without legal advice. 

Accept migrants or pay

A long-disputed area within the EU has been the distribution of responsibility in the migration issue: How should all countries take equal responsibility when migrants mainly come to southern European countries, while some countries are led by anti-immigrant parties? The Migration Pact establishes a “mandatory solidarity mechanism”, which means that member states must either accept migrants with the right to asylum, or pay 20 euros as compensation for each person they refuse.  

One possibility is to join the EUrna fairly distributes responsibility för migration and asylum cases and thus prevent overload for certain countries. 

- All member states will be involved in this solidarity work, but they can choose for themselves how they want to do it, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after the EU Parliament's approval of the migration pact. 

But among others Martin Nyman at the human rights organization Civil Rights Defenders has stated that the new principle leads to greater gaps in Europe, as the distribution may become even more uneven. Immigrant-critical countries may now have to pay their way out of responsibility. Even countries with right-wing governments have criticized the principle. For example, have Hungary has long shown resistance to taking responsibility in the matter and so far has not stated whether they will follow the new rules, which they believe restrict the individual sovereignty of countries. 

Cooperation with countries outside the EU

Since the migration issue does not only affect the EU, an important focus of the new migration pact is to look beyond the Union's borders. The EU must now expand cooperation with both UN agencies and partner countries outside the EU in order to reduce the need for migration in the long term, and secure the routes back to the home countries. 

Expandthat cooperation with countries outside the EU can prevent sudden refugee flows and help fight human trafficking, writes the EU Commission on its website. In addition, cooperation can help denied migrants return home safely through improved communication with the countries they travel through as well as the countries they come from. This is something that, among other things, the UN-related organization The International Organization for Migration has highlighted, who believe that the factors that cause people to leave their countries in the first place will now be countered.  

A risk with expanded cooperation outside the EU's borders is that the responsibility be handed over to countries with deficient human rightsether, says Human Rights Watch. For example, have Tunisia has been singled out by the IRC as a partner where denied migrants are sent for payment, but where it has been alerted that migrants have been denied basic humanitarian needs, such as water, food and shelter.  

Time will tell the effects

Many opinions have been expressed about the new migration pact. Something most people agree on is the importance of the pact for the EU's future migration policy, which not least the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola marked after it had been voted through. 

- This is a historic day for the EU. 

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