Reforming the European Union’s migration policy means no country will be “left alone” to deal with irregular arrivals, says Ylva Johansson.
Johansson spoke to Euronews after member states and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, a holistic overhaul that provides predictable and clear rules for receiving and relocating asylum seekers.
The five-pronged initiative aims to turn the page after years of bitter debates that have seen governments adopt unilateral and uncoordinated measures, creating an ad hoc crisis response that has often led to chaotic and disturbing scenes at the borders.
The deal was hailed as “historic” by leaders of the EU institutions, who seek to establish collective decision-making in an area crucial to the bloc’s security. Humanitarian organizations have been quick to denounce the compromise, warning that it will degrade the asylum process and risk normalizing arbitrary detention.
“In many respects, above all all, this is the first time that we have a Europeanised global migration and asylum policy agreed with such a large majority,” the European Commissioner for Home Affairs told Euronews.
“This will mean that we are better protecting the right to seek asylum, that we are better protecting individuals and their living conditions for asylum seekers, that we will have faster processes so as not to leave people in limbo for a long time,” he added.
“We will also have a mandatory solidarity mechanism that will ensure that no member state under pressure is left alone.”
The agreement on the New Covenant has materialized Wednesday morning after a three-day marathon of talks, in which Johansson personally participated. The amended text will still have to be formally ratified by Parliament and the Council before becoming executive.
Not long ago, breakthrough seemed unattainable. After its presentation in September 2020, the New Pact was subject to widespread criticism and skepticism, with many in Brussels wondering whether the legislation would ever pass.
But a new political momentum, which began earlier this year and grew steadilyallowed the negotiations to pick up the pace and reach a positive conclusion.
“We have rebuilt trust between member states. We have seen much more cooperation and much more mutual trust,” Johansson said.
“Member States realize that working alone (and) trying to address the migration challenge alone is a lose-lose situation. But when we work closely together, supporting each other, then it creates a win-win situation for all States members are stronger and stronger. the whole European Union is stronger.”
One of the most important innovations of the New Pact is a system of “mandatory solidarity” which will offer governments three options to manage migratory flows: relocate a certain number of asylum seekers, pay a contribution for each applicant who refuses to relocate and finance operational support , such as structures and technical equipment.
The provisional agreement includes a target of 30,000 relocations per year.
Johansson said the system would help countries “under pressure”, mainly frontline nations such as Italy, Greece and Spain, and insisted it would never impose forced relocation.
But, he added, the road to addressing migration does not end with the New Pact. The bloc still needs to do more fight human trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea and ensure that third countries take back asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected.
In the third quarter This year, more than 107,000 non-EU citizens have been asked to leave, but only 27,000 have been successfully repatriated.
“We must work with countries of origin and transit along the routes to prevent these dangerous journeys from taking place in the first place,” Johansson said.
“And then I would like to add that we must intensify the legal procedures to enter the European Union. We are a aging society. We also need migrants, but they must arrive in an orderly and safe manner.”