It was mainly a passage in the speech of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, which sparked jubilation in some European Mediterranean countries. Van der Leyens’ announcement that it would “abolish the Dublin Regulation” received a positive response from Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday. The Italian government was “very pleased” that the European Commission wanted to mark a “turning point” in European asylum policy, Conte said Thursday.
Also in Athens, Deputy Minister of Migration Giorgos Koumoutsakos stated that the Dublin system had failed and needed to be changed. Earlier, in a speech on the state of the EU, von der Leyen had stated that the existing regulation on European asylum policy should be replaced by “a new European migration management system”.
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The Dublin Regulation currently in force stipulates that countries in which migrants first enter the European Union are also responsible for the asylum procedures. The system has been criticized in countries such as Greece and Italy for having imposed the heaviest of asylum procedures on them.
The 2015 dispute continues to this day
Next Wednesday, the EU commission wants to make a new proposal to resolve the long-standing dispute between EU states over the distribution of refugees. The 2015 dispute is still having an impact, when all European member states were obliged to accept refugees according to a quota following a majority decision by the European ministers of the interior.
However, despite a ruling by the European Court of Justice, some Eastern European countries still refuse to comply with the obligation.
Against this background, EU Migration Commissioner Margaritis Schinas urged caution on Wednesday evening during a meeting with representatives of the conservative EPP group in the European Parliament. The Commission’s proposal to reform the EU’s asylum policy should be worded over the next week so that it will not be destroyed by the governments in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland within 24 hours, Schinas said, according to information from the EU parliament.
Migration pressure on Italy and Greece has decreased
Migration pressure on countries such as Italy and Greece – and thus the political pressure to introduce a binding system for the EU-wide distribution of refugees – has since diminished significantly in relation to the refugee crisis. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 49,539 refugees arrived in Europe between January 1 and September 10. In 2015 there were more than a million people.
The problem, however, is how the EU should act in an acute emergency, such as now following the fire in Moria, Greece. If the number of refugees were to skyrocket in the future due to a crisis outside the EU, the issue of EU-wide dispersion would come up again, as in 2015.
Before submitting the EU asylum reform proposal, Brussels needs to find answers to questions like these: What happens if 1,800 refugees are distributed in the EU, but EU states only agree to collectively accept 1,500 people? In this situation, the question arises of what the EU Commission should do to distribute the remaining 300 refugees.