For years, the EU has been debating a reform of its asylum law. New elections in Spain could make it even more difficult to reach an agreement.
Madrid – Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez surprisingly announced new parliamentary elections on Monday. The announcement came after a major defeat in Spain's regional elections for Sánchez's social democratic party, PSOE. Now Sánchez wants to hold new elections on July 23 instead of December. And the decision does not only have domestic political consequences: the hope of an agreement on the planned reform of EU asylum law is also fading.
Spanish election campaign upsets plans for EU asylum reform
For years, the EU has been negotiating a reform of its asylum policy. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) recently announced that she hopes for an agreement at the meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg in June. "I see Schengen in danger if we do not succeed in reaching an agreement there in the next few months," Faeser said in Berlin in May. "And, of course, June 8 is very important. It would be great if we could do it there."
But in the midst of the Spanish election campaign, the fulfillment of Faeser's wish seems unlikely. "This will make it much more difficult to find a compromise in the EU," Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the European Parliament, told Der Spiegel. "Important laws could be delayed by weeks or even prevented altogether."
The party of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez suffered a crushing defeat in the regional elections on 26th May. © IMAGO/PSOE
New elections in Spain in July: Participation of right-wing populist Vox party in government possible
Johannes Greubel, an analyst at the European Policy Centre think tank, shares similar concerns. "For the EU, and especially for the Council, these elections certainly come at a more than unfortunate time, as they will have a fundamental impact on the functioning of the Spanish presidency, especially at the political level," Greubel told Euronews.
From July, Spain will also take over the six-monthly rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. If a government alliance between the opposition conservative People's Party (PP) and the right-wing populist Vox party is formed in the new elections, this could lead to further difficulties in reaching an agreement between the member states.
In the regional elections, the opposition conservative People's Party (PP) won around 31.5 percent of the vote in Spain's approximately 8,100 municipalities. This means that it has risen by around nine percentage points. With Valencia and Seville, the PP also conquered two of the country's largest cities. The far-right Vox party was even able to double its number of votes nationwide with 7.2 percent. The PSOE, on the other hand, lost about one percentage point of the vote with 28.1 percent. Current polls for the parliamentary elections also put the opposition PP ahead of Prime Minister Sánchez's PSOE.
EU reform to ensure better distribution of asylum seekers
Currently, the right to asylum is governed by the Dublin III Regulation, which came into force in 2014. According to this, people must apply for asylum in the EU member state in which they first entered. The aim of the new EU regulation is to ensure a better distribution of asylum seekers between member states. Uniform criteria for the admission of asylum seekers are also to be established. (with dpa/AFP)