The carriage of discord: EU New Pact on Migration stuck on the track

Brussels, 30 Oct 2021 – The Covid crisis didn’t stop hundred of thousands migrants crossing the Mediterranean and walking through Eastern and Northern roots to reach EU borders. Their lives and future, though, are still at risk within the bloc as the replacement for the highly contested and unworkable Dublin III is still stuck on track one if its long journey towards the final approval. Why?

The EU Council, where Nation States argue their controversies, is blocking the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, outlined last 23 September 2020 by the EU Commission.

If on the one side it’s no surprise that Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia (the four Visegrad) keep building up their walls against immigration refusing any form of solidarity and fair sharing, on the other many more are adding up hostility to the New Pact. Southern states as Italy, Greece, Spain where the burden of migration and asylum seeking is being shouldered, are far from reaching an agreement on the proposed legislation.

Two main stumbling blocks: mandatory solidarity and flexibility.

The proposed mandatory solidarity leaves too many chances to northern and non-border states to disengage from this obligation: the New Pact prescribes when an illegal migrant/asylum seeker reaches, for instance, Italy and applies for asylum, a procedure would start to allow the person to move to another nation with less number of migrants; Member States will have, as a must, to act in solidarity with Italy or Greece and take their own share of migrants. But, and here is the issue, the compulsory solidarity mechanism is not limited to the relocation of the asylum seeker to a new state (secondary movement), but leaves the other nations more chances to ”act in solidarity”, which would allow, for instance Hungary or Poland, to reject migrants and to provide instead financial support to them in the first country of entry to the EU or to finance their return to the country they are fleeing.

Therefore there’s no permanent solution to the harsh conflict between Member States over the relocation mechanism that should distribute migrants across the Union.

As relocation is not mandatory, but just one of the options the other states can choose in order to contribute ‘with solidarity’ and share responsibility, the New Pact does not change the main sticking point of Dublin III: the responsibility of accepting or refusing asylum applications remains upon frontline states as the rest of the bloc (for the most part) will go on rejecting migrants to foster national political agendas.

Now the carriage of the New Pact is on hold at the departures, stuck between reports and amendments. Obviously amid clashes. The last one: MEPs are struggling to delay the deadline to submit amendments to the report of LIBE Committee shadow rapporteur Tomas Tobé (centre-right PPE) which acknowledges “the implementation of the Dublin III Regulation is not proving effective, because its primary objectives are not being met, namely swift and fair determination of the Member State responsible for an application for international protection” calling the Council to adopt qualified majority when voting to reform Dublin III Regulation (meaning 55% of member states vote in favour, 15 out of 27), and when acting with regard to Article 78(2) of the TFEU (the one regulating Policies on border checks, asylum and immigration).

But the failures of the past regulation aren’t finally replaced by a set of rules putting an end to the stark refusal of part of the bloc to accept responsibility for migrants and relocation of asylum seekers among all member states.

Now that the end of 2021 is approaching, the only likely chance for this, once again contested, New Pact to overcome opposition would be under France’s presidency of the Council starting in January 2022.