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Europe is toughening up and putting more obstacles in its asylum policy for migrants

The governments of the European Union approved this Wednesday by qualified majority (with the votes against Poland and Hungary and the abstention of Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic), the migration crisis management regulation, the missing piece in the European Migration Pact that has been negotiated for four years. Italy, which had delayed its approval last week, gave in to the concessions made by Spain, which holds the current presidency of the bloc and had to mediate between the 27.

What was agreed upon must still be ratified by the European Parliament, which seems willing to do so without giving up much of a fight.

The agreed text It is a regulation that modifies the treatment to be given to asylum seekers when a European government considers that the number of arrivals is excessive. When it comes into force, which will not be before 2025, they may be detained without trial in centers established on the borders for up to 40 weeks. Much faster study procedures for your applications will also be allowed.

They will be in a legal limbo that is now legalized unless the Court of Justice of the EU says otherwise: They will have physically set foot on European territory, but they will not have any rights rather than waiting locked up for their asylum application to be processed. The current regulations allowed, at least formally although it was not later enforced, for these people to move while their application was being processed.

The agreement also provides that in the event of a migration crisis, a solidarity mechanism will be activated to distribute asylum seekers across the continent. The governments They can refuse to accept these distributed refugees, but in that case they must pay 20,000 euros for each one rejected.

The full package, which comes as arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers increase, has been negotiated for four years. And despite the fact that both the European Commission and most national governments assure that there is a lack of labor on the continent, Immigration policy does not open more legal avenues while promising more deportations.

This promise has been made regularly for decades without increasing in practice because the countries of origin often do not accept their nationals, because they cannot be deported to countries in conflict or because their origin is not even known with certainty. The actual rate of deportations of those who receive a removal order It has been moving between 30% and 40% for decades.

A group of migrants are transported on a boat bound for the “Galaxy” ferry. Photo EFE

The pact comes because the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU managed to convince Germany, which for years rejected it because it considered that the work of NGOs that rescue migrants was criminalized and because it saw that basic human rights of those seeking asylum would be violated. asylum.

Cosmetic changes and pressure from the far-right AfD, together with an increase in migrant arrivals to Germany, They made Berlin give in and open the way to an agreement.

Added to the German change is that the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron and the Italian Giorgia Meloni are on the same line or, as the Elysée said after a bilateral meeting on September 26 in Rome, “they have a shared vision of the management of the migration issue ”. The fact that she is far-right and he is liberal does not seem to make any difference between their idea of ​​what immigration policy the European Union should have.

The European Commission applauded heartily because it hopes to meet its objective of having everything agreed before the next European elections in early June 2024. The conservative turn in immigration policysupported by governments of all political stripes, also leads the European Commission to sign migration agreements with third countries that boil down to Europeans paying neighboring authoritarian regimes (Morocco, Turkey and soon Tunisia, Libya or Egypt) in exchange for prevent migrants and asylum seekers from leaving their coasts for Europe.

Part of that money is going to reinforce its coast guard. In the Libyan case, simple armed militias of which there is evidence that they have even tried to sink migrant barges on the high seas. In these cases, such as that of the Greek coast guard leaving small inflatable devices without a motor adrift in the heart of the Aegean, the European Commission has shown its “concern” and has promised to investigate without ever knowing where these investigations went. while national governments looked the other way.

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