Migrants walk towards the Turkish-Greek border as they attempt to cross into the European Union Migrants walk towards the Turkish-Greek border as they attempt to cross into the European Union  (ANSA)

EU's new Asylum and Migration Pact disappoints rights groups

The European Parliament narrowly approves the wide-reaching reform of the European Union's migration and asylum policy. Aid agencies and human rights activists express disappointment saying it fails to protect those most in need.

By Linda Bordoni

The European Parliament’s main political groups overcame opposition from extremist party representatives to pass the new EU Migration and Asylum Pact – a sweeping reform nearly a decade in the making.

In a series of 10 votes on Wednesday, European lawmakers endorsed the regulations and policies that make up the reformed legislation that addresses the questions of who should take responsibility for migrants and asylum seekers when they arrive and whether other EU countries should be obliged to help.

Commenting on the Pact, the EU Home Affairs Commissioner said the bloc “will be able to better protect external borders, the vulnerable and refugees, swiftly return those not eligible to stay” and introduce “mandatory solidarity” between member states that signatories say, will ensure all countries, regardless of their size and location, contribute to alleviating the pressure on Southern Europe.

Rights groups disappointed

Voicing disappointment for the new Pact, Caritas Europa notes the new rules rely on a complicated so-called solidarity mechanism where EU member states can literally pay to avoid the relocation of asylum seekers.

Save the Children meanwhile says signatories have ignored the request to prioritise the protection of children and take steps to minimize risks that harm their rights. In fact, the charity says, the Pact will undermine children's and families’ right to asylum in Europe and put them at risk of detention, pushbacks and destitution at borders.

The 27 EU member countries must now endorse the reform package, possibly in a vote in late April before it can take effect.

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11 April 2024, 15:51