EU countries agree on immigration pact

Published 6 October 2023
- By Editorial Staff
African migrants in a rubber raft.

During a meeting at the ambassadorial level, a majority of EU countries have now agreed to adopt a common asylum and migration pact.

The changes are expected to lead to stricter controls, faster investigations, and a more “fair distribution” of migrants. However, it will also enforce “mandatory solidarity” upon countries that are unwilling to accept asylum seekers, requiring them to pay a fee to opt out.

“It is very pleasing that the emergency regulation, which is an important piece of the asylum and migration pact, has now been adopted by the Council”, says Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard (M) in a written statement to Swedish state channel SVT.

The crisis regulation that has been agreed upon is reportedly the final part of the joint European migration pact. It had previously been rejected by Italy, which was dissatisfied with provisions regarding how aid organizations can be engaged to assist migrants in the Mediterranean – Italy believes that these organizations, in practice, encourage illegal immigrants to come to Europe.

While all details have not yet been disclosed, it is clear that a majority of the representatives of the member states have accepted the entire migration pact previously discussed in the European Parliament and by the European Commission, according to SVT. The focus now is on developing a common format.

“Now we can proceed with trilogue negotiations between the Council, Commission, and Parliament. It is crucial that the pact is put in place to ensure law and order at the EU’s external borders and reduced immigration”, writes Malmer Stenergard.

Mandatory solidarity

The changes are claimed to lead to a more “fair” distribution of migrants, stricter controls, and improved procedures for establishing the identities of asylum seekers. It is also stated that those coming from countries that usually receive rejections should be placed near the border and have their cases quickly reviewed – facilitating their prompt return home if necessary.

There is also a clause about “mandatory solidarity”, and countries that do not wish to accept migrants will be forced to “buy their freedom” – reportedly at a cost of approximately 250,000 SEK per asylum seeker they wish to avoid.

For Sweden, the pact is assessed to result in fewer migrants coming to the country. However, Swedish politicians are expected to allocate large sums of money to various financial support packages to fund European asylum reception.

According to reports, Poland and Hungary voted against the migration pact, while Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia abstained from voting. To be binding, the pact must also be first approved by the European Parliament.

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