MEPs discussed with the European Council and the European Commission how to address migratory challenges Europe faces while ensuring unity, solidarity, respect for international obligations and human rights.
Mikuláš Bek, for the Czech Presidency of the Council, announced that the extraordinary Home Affairs Council on 25 November will assess the situation at all migratory routes. He underscored that saving lives at sea is an obligation under international law and a moral imperative. Cooperation with third countries and fight against smuggling had to be further pursued. Work in the Council on the new pact, around the solidarity principle, is ongoing, with a view of adopting the reform before the end of legislative cycle.
Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas referred to the recently proposed action plan for Central Mediterranean route and urged the adoption of long-term solutions in the form of a comprehensive pact on asylum and migration allowing for effective EU cooperation in the spirit of solidarity. Commissioner Ylva Johansson noted the increased pressure by migrants who are not in need of international protection and explained that his issued is being addressed by the Commission with countries of origin, with the aim of reducing irregular arrivals.
MEPs offered various approaches to dealing with increasing migratory pressure, underscoring the urgency of completing the reform of migration and asylum rules. Recalling the example of how Europe welcomed Ukrainian refugees, some called for more solidarity and fair responsibility sharing with regard to refugees from other parts of the world. They also defended that additional legal pathways and improving possibilities for labour migration must be part of a comprehensive solution.
Others insisted on the importance of protecting external borders, preventing secondary movements and safeguarding the well-functioning of the Schengen area. These wished to step up cooperation with third countries on migration and address root causes of migrations. They also called for quicker decisions upon arrival and swifter return procedures for those that are not in need of international protection.
Some MEPs advocated processing applications for humanitarian reasons in the territory of third countries.
On search and rescue, several MEPs recalled the unequivocal international obligations to save persons in distress at sea and called for common European search and rescues solutions. They also underlined that the work of humanitarian rescue vessels must not be criminalized. On the other hand, some speakers warned of the pull-factor played by search and rescue operations and the necessity to have more cooperation with third countries to prevent departures.
The European Commission proposed the New Pact on Migration and Asylum in September 2020 to improve asylum procedures and ensure solidarity and fair responsibility sharing among member states when dealing with the arrival of migrants and asylum seekers. The Pact comprises the following legislative proposals: Regulation for Asylum and Migration Management, Regulation for Crisis and Force majeure, Screening Regulation, Qualification Regulation , Reception Conditions Directive (recast), Amended Asylum Procedures regulation, Return Directive (recast), Amended EURODAC Regulation and Union Resettlement Framework Regulation.
The European Parliament is currently working on its mandates for negotiation with the Council and the first votes at committee level are expected to take place in the coming months.