EU needs ‘mandatory’ migrant solidarity system, Johansson says

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson gives a press conference on the Commission's proposal for more clarity and predictability of any measures restricting free movement in the European Union due to coronavirus pandemic in Brussels, Belgium, 04 September 2020. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

The EU home affairs commissioner, who is to unveil a much-awaited asylum reform this week, urged Saturday (18 September) that a system of “mandatory” solidarity on migration be agreed between member states.

“It has to be mandatory, all member states have to help when there is a situation when a member state is under pressure, when there is a lot of people that need protection,” Ylva Johansson told AFP.

“But we also need to take into account the kind of help” needed, she noted, as some of the 27 EU nations remain hostile to accepting asylum seekers.

In recent years, attempts to relocate asylum seekers within the EU have been rejected by the so-called Visegrad group – Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

“It’s not only relocation, it could also be other situations like for example helping with returns” of those whose asylum requests have been refused to their home countries, she said.

Poland rejects southern Europe's push for mandatory relocation of migrants

The upcoming negotiations over the EU’s long-awaited new migration proposal are expected to hit another dead end, despite the European Commission’s assurances of having held an “intensive consultation process”.

Johansson declined to go into details of the new “Asylum and Migration Pact” that is to be unveiled on September 23, two weeks after blazes in the Greek migrant camp of Moria left thousands homeless.

The incident is seen as a symbol of EU failure to agree on a common migration policy, as some of the 12,700 migrants in the overcrowded camp had been there for years.

She recognised that finding “a proposal that can be accepted by all member states and by parliament” would be a “difficult task.”

“My guess is that when I present my proposal, I will have no ‘hurray, we won’,” Johansson said, hoping however that it would be seen as “a proper compromise.”

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday said she intended to abolish the controversial Dublin Regulation under which asylum claims are handled in the country migrants first arrive.

The rule is intended to prevent migrants from lodging multiple asylum requests, but also allows them to be sent back to the first country by another EU nation.

Countries like Greece and Italy argue this is unfair as they are often where asylum claims are made because their position in southern Europe places them on the front line of migrant arrivals.

Johansson also called for “much quicker procedures” to examine asylum requests.

Mandatory relocation still point of contention in new EU migration pact

The European Commission’s long-awaited new migration pact will consist of five regulations and a political text, EU sources have told EURACTIV. However, the thorny issue of mandatory relocation, which some EU countries strongly oppose, continues to cause headaches.

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