EU countries to radically reform migration and asylum laws
The 27 member states of the EU gathered this week in Luxembourg for more than 12 hours before agreeing on a “historical” new approach to how asylum seekers are processed and relocated across Europe
June 9, 2023 5:53am
Updated: June 9, 2023 5:53am
The member states of the European Union agreed to reform the region’s immigration and asylum policies for the first time in years after hours of intense negotiation, officials announced on Thursday.
The 27 member states of the EU gathered this week in Luxembourg for more than 12 hours before agreeing on a “historical” new approach to how asylum seekers are processed and relocated across Europe.
Most of the member countries had enforced the reforms by Thursday afternoon. However, a coalition of 10 states led by Italy did not agree to the changes until late on Thursday evening. Italy was a key country in the negotiations because it receives some of the highest numbers of asylum seekers in the EU.
Poland and Hungary voted against the proposal, while Bulgaria, Malta, Lithuania, and Slovakia abstained from the vote.
“I wasn’t sure this day would come,” said Maria Malmer Stenergard, migration minister for Sweden, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
The new immigration policies would ensure that certain asylum seekers get processed immediately at the border while making it easy for those who are rejected. Instead of the EU as a whole, each member state can determine what country is “safe” for migrants who are not deemed eligible for asylum.
This concession allows countries to send the rejected migrants to third countries that not every EU member state agrees fulfills the criteria of “safe.”
“It’s up to the member states to make a decision on whether that is enough for the connection criteria,” Malmer Stenergard said in a late-night press conference. “But let me just emphasize that this is still supposed to be in accordance with international law.”
Additionally, a new system of redistribution of migrants will be put in place, with a quota of how many asylum cases countries have to process before asking for help from other members. Countries that do not receive migrants will have to contribute financially to a fund serving undefined “projects” in non-EU countries to combat the root cause of immigration.
“This was not an easy decision for all of us around the table, but it was historic,” said Nancy Faeser, Germany’s home minister.