EU asylum law: ministers reach a compromise

After years of dispute, EU interior ministers have agreed on a significant tightening of the bloc’s asylum policy. A sufficient majority of member states voted in favour of establishing reception centres with fast-track procedures on the EU’s external borders for those coming from countries considered safe. In addition, EU states that are unwilling to take in refugees are to pay compensation. Is this progress?

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

A genunine breakthrough

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung commends the way the EU countries have now pulled together:

“It borders on a miracle. ... This is also a success for the Swedish EU Council presidency, which had fought energetically and judiciously for the agreement. ... The breakthrough is also remarkable because immigration and migration affect the core area of national sovereignty. That a communitisation could succeed here in some areas seemed improbable not long ago. Above all, because societal attitudes to immigration and asylum vary greatly from country to country. There are veritable rifts not only between East and West.”

Andreas Ernst
La Repubblica (IT) /

Not a single concession for Rome

The agreement is a setback for Italy, La Repubblica declares:

“Despite the metaphorical fist slammed on the table, the Meloni government has emerged empty-handed from the latest negotiations. ... Our country has not secured a single concession. ... Indeed, the concept of ‘obligatory solidarity’ has nothing to do with the active participation of allies in the redistribution of migrants. On the contrary, the concept of voluntariness remains linked to the possibility of paying 20,000 euros for each rejected migrant on the basis of the annual determination of the quota of non-EU citizens to be resettled. Rome gets a more flexible arrangement regarding ‘third countries’. ... However, this is a procedure which is very complicated in its implementation.”

Claudio Tito
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

People expect problems to be solved

It was high time for this migration pact, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Because a better asylum agreement from the humanitarian point of view will no longer be possible in the EU. On the contrary, a right-wing wave is to be expected in the European elections of 2024. ... A popular argument is that we must take a stand on asylum issues and oppose the right-wing zeitgeist all the more resolutely. That is an honourable idea on the one hand. On the other hand, it is also dangerous to tell the people of Europe that what they perceive as a problem is not really a problem at all, and that they have chosen the wrong governments. ... They expect solutions from those in power, at least temporary ones.”

Josef Kelnberger
De Tijd (BE) /

It could work

The compromise can at least promote action based on solidarity, De Tijd stresses:

“It’s a hawker mentality that deserves no beauty prize, but it has the merit of working. If Hungary refuses to take in refugees despite the European agreements, the European Commission can hardly open an asylum centre in Budapest. But when it comes to money, that can simply be deducted from the amount of European support Hungary receives. This is enforceable solidarity, which is unfortunately necessary. In a migration policy which has no good side, every pragmatic step is welcome.”

Bart Haeck