The EU Pact on Asylum and Migration unveiled today falls short of expectations for shifting the EU’s direction toward more balanced and humane migration policies says Caritas Europa.

Unfortunately, the Pact’s top priorities seem to be deterrence, preventing migration to the EU, and intensifying cooperation with countries of origin and transit about irregular movements and return. Caritas Europa had hoped that the Moria catastrophe would change the policies aiming to keep migrants at Europe’s doorstep, but it has not led the EU to radically change its course or to propose policies that would definitively prevent the creation of future, undignified migrant camps. Instead, the Pact seems to strengthen asylum and return procedures along EU border states, most likely at the cost of asylum and human rights safeguards, jeopardising the principle of ‘non-refoulement’.

It remains to be seen if deeply needed intra-EU solidarity will effectively be reinforced to allow a fair share of asylum seekers among EU states through a stable relocation mechanism.

“A key element of the Pact aims at introducing mandatory fast track asylum and return procedures along EU border states. Caritas Europa fears that these new procedures will dilute legal safeguards, and lead to possible ‘refoulement’ and increased detention. Any type of border measures must respect human rights and the Geneva Convention, and should never force people back to unsafe situations. We are also concerned that this new system will replicate the hotspot model implemented in Moria, which has entailed overcrowded and undignified reception facilities and containment of people, and has proven to be a total failure for migrants and the local population alike,” said Maria Nyman, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.

“It is unacceptable that the new solidarity tool box mechanism proposed by the European Commission to replace the Dublin system will allow EU Member States the option of avoiding relocation by facilitating the return of migrants. Instead, a fair, predictable and sustainable responsibility sharing mechanism among EU Member States is needed. Without an equitable system to distribute asylum seekers throughout Europe, which takes into account the family and personal ties of the people being relocated, the new Pact is doomed to fail.”