Brussels reopened the bitter debate on immigration reform on Wednesday with a heavy-handed proposal.
The European Commission put on the table of the capitals a plan that places the accent on the shielding of the external border of the EU and the expulsions of irregular immigrants.
In addition, it ends the mandatory quotas in the distribution of refugees in exchange for a kind of solidarity
a la carte
in which you can choose to welcome migrants or help to expel them.
The offer seeks to drag Poland and Hungary to the negotiating table to close an early deal before the end of this year.
The European Commission faces a last quarter worthy of the end of the decade.
With its breath held in the face of the uncertainty of the height of the second wave of covid-19, Brussels must seek the ratification of funds for economic reconstruction, face a dog-face negotiation with London on account of Brexit and find a way out to the disputes with Turkey and Russia.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, this Wednesday during the press conference to present the proposal of the migratory pact. (EFE)
The crisis in Moria, which once again exposed the conditions in which refugees are living in Lesbos (Greece), has finally made it necessary to address a folder that has been open since 2016.
With more than half a year late, the Executive of Ursula von der Leyen launched her proposal for an immigration pact.
"The old system for dealing with migration in Europe no longer works," said the president.
"Moria is a stark reminder," he added.
Brussels once again laid the foundations for a highly complex debate, in which there are huge differences between the 27 EU partners.
Even with irreconcilable red lines: Spain asks for mandatory quotas, while Poland or Hungary reject them.
The vice president of the European Commission in charge of the immigration portfolio, Margaritis Schinas, said that the document that he presented with the Interior Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, is the "convergence zone" that they have found after visiting all the capitals.
The package, which consists of 10 legislative proposals, has three clear pillars: the surveillance of the external border of the EU, intensifying the return policy and establishing in an "urgent" way a new solidarity mechanism that does not contemplate mandatory quotas.
The scheme is closed with an emergency button that would be activated so that, in the event of a crisis, the Commission can ultimately decide the distribution of immigrants, as EL PAÍS advanced this Wednesday.
The Community Executive wants the countries to start negotiating the package to reach an agreement of principles before the end of this year.
Community sources maintained that they hope that the tragedy of Moria will give a boost to these negotiations.
The situation in the EU is very different from 2015, when the refugee crisis occurred.
According to the Commission, migratory flows had already been reduced before the pandemic by 92%, especially through the central and western Mediterranean.
Instead, it continued to grow in the eastern part and in the Balkans.
9The system proposed by Brussels is focused on preventing access to irregular immigrants and achieving their return from an early stage.
The key to achieving this is by turning the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) into a true border and returns police and by deploying a network to screen anyone who enters the EU without authorization.
“Now, the only obligation for a country is to take fingerprints of whoever arrives illegally and register it.
Under the new regulations, newcomers will be subjected to intense identity, security and health checks, ”said Schinas.
Brussels also considers that migration rules will only be "credible" if those who "do not have the right to be in the EU" are returned to their countries.
Now, according to Frontex, a third of those who arrive are returned.
The Commission aims to reach more agreements with countries of origin and transit, especially in the Eastern Balkans and North Africa.
For this reason, it will create a returns coordinator, a figure that governments such as the Danish have already established.
This heavy-handed policy on irregular immigration makes Brussels think that it will be able to tie countries to a new mechanism of solidarity
a la carte
There will be no mandatory quotas or a stable distribution mechanism like the one Spain demanded.
Instead, country contributions may consist of hosting refugees who are eligible for asylum or “sponsoring” returns.
In other words, helping another country to return its irregular immigrants.
Material or personnel supports could also be taken into account.
Diplomatic sources see in this system a clear nod to certain countries in Eastern and Northern Europe, which refuse to welcome immigrants.
With this mechanism also they would
reward their efforts to expel
Schinas, however, said that the Commission guarantees southern Europe that its demands for solidarity will always be heeded.
The system devised for this is as follows.
A country experiencing an emergency, risk of migratory pressure or a rescue situation asks Brussels for help.
The Commission then mediates with other countries to contribute, either by welcoming migrants or assisting with returns.
If there is no possible solution in a first or second round, Brussels ends up deciding its fate.
It remains to be seen, however, how far the Twenty-seven are willing to go.
In other words, to what extent the resignations of the Commission are excessive for Spain or Italy and insufficient for Austria, Poland or Hungary.
Up to 12,000 euros per host
The European Commission proposal roused the NGOs and the parliamentary left.
Oxfam and Cáritas, for example, warned of the excessive approach to the postulates of ultra-conservative or nationalist governments.
“It is good that the European Commission is trying to bring countries together to bring about meaningful changes but, in its attempt to achieve consensus, the Commission has given in to pressure from Member States whose sole aim is to reduce the number of people they protection is guaranteed in Europe ”, said the head of Oxfam's European office, Marissa Ryan.
One of the most controversial issues has been to include these "sponsored returns" within the solidarity package.
“In the framework of return sponsorship”, says the Commission in the communication approved on Wednesday, “Member States would provide all the necessary support to the Member State under pressure to quickly return those who do not have the right to stay, assuming the Member State of I support full responsibility if the return is not carried out within a set period ”.
Even so, if that return were to go wrong, the country could also benefit from the aid from the EU Budget for the recipient country, of 10,000 euros per person and 12,000 if it is an unaccompanied minor.
The Executive of Ursula von der Leyen should not only be aware of the Council.
According to what the political groups expressed, their proposal is far from generating a parliamentary majority.
Only the European People's Party called it "a good starting point."
The leader of the European Social Democrats, Iratxe García, demanded the quotas.
Through her Twitter account, she said: "The EU must ensure that the right to asylum is fully respected and introduce a permanent compulsory relocation mechanism between the Member States."
From Los Verdes, deputy Ernest Urtasun denounced that "it will be the Member States, including Spain, Italy and Greece, who will assume responsibility for asylum seekers," denounced Los Verdes deputy Ernest Urtasun, who confirmed that the proposals of the Commission will lead the EU to “more Morias”.
Criticism also came from Renew's liberals.
Dutch MP Sophie in 't Veld warned of the danger that the extreme right could end up hijacking the debate.