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Francesca Spinelli

Prolonged discussions and disagreements between governments threaten the necessary reform of European rules on the right of asylum.


As Elly Schlein (shadow rapporteur for the Progressive alliance of socialists and democrats) reminds us, MEPs have also “reinforced the fundamental and procedural rights of asylum seekers” and “eliminated the eligibility checks for asylum requests”, which would have created a filter “infringing on international law”. According to Maiani, another point which is “very positive on the conceptual level” is having broken, however gently, the “taboo of choice”, namely the idea that asylum seekers should not be able to decide where they would like their case to be examined. The Wikström report in fact recommends that asylum seekers who cannot demonstrate any connection with a given member state be transferred to a country chosen from among the four member states with the least burdened reception system.

According to the plans of the current Bulgarian presidency of the Council, member states should reach a common position on the reform by the end of June. Schlein deems “very worrying” the drafts which are circulating within the Council (two of which have recently been made public by Statewatch), “because they would represent a step backwards with respect to the already insufficient proposal of the Commission”.

While still in disagreement on various points, member states seem decided on placing the accent on controls and security, reinforcing sanctions against “insubordinate” asylum seekers and trusting entirely in the Council to manage crisis situations. The Dublin regulation would thus become, more than ever, a flexible instrument in the hands of member states, and not “a European structural response geared towards an equitable sharing of responsibility”, argues Schlein.

As shadow rapporteur, Schlein has to participate in negotiations with the Council and the Commission, but admits that such talks are not a foregone conclusion. “Member states continue to waste time, and before long the parliamentary mandate will have run out. The risk is that those governments which don’t want to hear any talk of solidarity or relocation are trying to make the reform slide. And on the other side, governments which want more ambitious changes, facing the risk of a detrimental reform, may not want to give in”. Schlein is also highly critical of Germany (“before the accord with Turkey they wanted an ambitious reform of Dublin, but then it must have slipped their mind”) and Macron (“as pro-European as he may be, on this reform he hasn’t changed France’s position”), and recognises that “there is some profiting from the current state of uncertainty in Italy”.


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Photo: Jeanne Menjoulet/Flickr

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