MEPs question whether the new Migration Pact will bring about real change

Syrian refugee Mohammed Sadik Jalani and his children sit beside tents set up by Greek authorities and UNHCR to provide shelter after fires destroyed the Moria Reception and Identification Centre on Lesvos.  © UNHCR

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


The new Migration Pact is insufficient for the majority of EP groups. Some demand compulsory relocation of refugees; others want a firmer stance on irregular arrivals.

The Civil Liberties Committee held a first debate about the Commission’s proposals with Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner Ylva Johansson on Thursday. Some MEPs considered the initiative to be “a step in the right direction”, to help front-line countries, and others admitted it might be the only way forward, given the position of several EU member states. All requested more information about how the pact would be applied on the ground.

Many speakers referred to the situation on Lesvos, following the fire in Moria refugee camp, and asked whether the new rules will prevent that humanitarian disaster from being repeated. They raised questions about whether fundamental rights will be respected in the new screening and border procedures and the detention of asylum-seekers. Several regretted that the Commission has not removed the contentious principle of the current Dublin Regulation, that the country of first-entry must deal with an asylum-claim.

EU countries that do not want to transfer refugees to their territory would be given the option to sponsor returns of those without a right to stay instead; MEPs wondered what will happen if most member states opt for the latter. There were also questions raised about the enforcement mechanisms to ensure the new rules are effectively applied.

Some MEPs complained that cooperation with third countries does not include the establishment of hotspots to process asylum requests outside European territory and insisted the EU must be tougher on smugglers.

You can watch the debate again.

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