The EU Parliament will vote on asylum procedures at external borders and faster deportations on Wednesday. Human rights activists complain.

Plane taking off behind barbed wire

Higher entry barriers, jet engines for deportations: EU asylum reform in one box Photo: dpa

BRUSSELS/BERLIN afp/epd | Ahead of the decisive vote on the European Union's new asylum and migration rules, MEPs admitted shortcomings. The package is not perfect, but it is the best that could have been achieved in years of negotiations, MPs said ahead of Wednesday afternoon's vote in Brussels.

On Wednesday, the EU Parliament in Brussels wants to vote on the legislative package for asylum reform in the EU. Human rights and refugee organizations see the right to asylum at risk if the plans go ahead.

Before the vote, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) called on deputies to accept the new rules. It is extremely important that the European Parliament approves the new Common European Asylum System, Faeser told Editorial Network Germany. This issue should not be left to right-wing populists who abuse people in need to generate sentiment.

Asylum procedures now at the EU's external borders

With the reform of the Common European Asylum System (GEAS), the EU wants to learn the lessons of 2015 and 2016, when more than a million people arrived in Germany alone. The European Parliament and the 27 Member States had already agreed on the basic principles in December: asylum procedures directly at Europe's external borders for the first time, accelerated returns to “safe” third countries and a solidarity mechanism to ease the burden on main countries of arrival. like Italy and Greece.

There are many critical points in the legislative package, says SPD politician Birgit Sippel, who helped negotiate the new rules for parliament. For example, there is no provision for immigration of skilled workers. “But we have the possibility of a common system, and that is good,” emphasizes Sippel.

Dutch liberal Sophie in 't Veld also admits that she does not feel like celebrating. However, it is a “complete illusion” to believe that the rules can be improved later, she warns, alluding to the expected shift to the right in the European elections at the beginning of June.

Human rights organizations warn

A broad alliance of more than 160 European human rights and refugee organizations warns that the new rules could “undermine fundamental rights.” Furthermore, they do not respond to central problems such as the death of refugees on boats in the Mediterranean, according to an inflammatory letter signed by Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and Pro Asyl, among others.

CDU MEP Lena Düpont considers it positive that the asylum pact has put an end to “the transition from one emergency solution to another” in Europe's asylum policy since 2016. However, the rules do not offer “solutions in the short term,” says Düpont. Its implementation, scheduled for 2026, will be “a gigantic task for the European Union.” It is necessary to create tens of thousands of new reception places at the external borders. Critics fear prison-like conditions.

Cornelia Ernst, of the Left Party, speaks of a “pact of shame.” Even families with children are “detained in border procedures only to be deported to so-called 'safe third countries,'” she complains. “This means that the individual right to asylum in the EU is de facto dead.”

Left and right parties want to vote against the asylum pact and the Greens also receive a lot of criticism. If some of the legal texts fail, Parliament would have a problem because it had insisted on a global solution.

Right, this is all too lax

Almost no one, especially in the right-wing political camp, believes that the asylum pact will lead to a significant decrease in the number of immigrants. Last year, the EU asylum agency recorded some 1.1 million applications, the highest number since 2016. At around 330,000, a third of them came from Germany, the largest member state.

War refugees from Ukraine, who enjoy special protection in Europe, are not included. More than a million of them have found refuge in Germany and four million throughout the EU.

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