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The 23 September last, the European Commission presented the Pact on Immigration and Asylum which, with a programmatic horizon of 5 years, proposes to lay the foundations for a new European system for managing migration flows.
The goal is overcome the current lack of coordination between Member States and the emergency approach of recent years. Migratory flows are back to 2013 levels, the year preceding the increase in flows to Italy, also through the so-called “externalization “of borders, that is, agreements made with transit countries such as Turkey, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco to keep migrants on their territories in exchange for funds.
However, the reception systems of the border countries remain largely overcrowded, persist long delays in handling asylum applications e less than 29% of planned returns are completed. THEThe new Pact proposed by the Commission fits into this framework.
Political feasibility of the Pact
Although the pressure of migratory flows has decreased, it is no less difficult to find an agreement between the different interests of the Member States. Previous attempts at reform have already failed: between 2015 and 2016, in the midst of the migration crisis, the Juncker Commission had proposed a relocation plan for asylum seekers, establishing a quota that each Member State should have accepted, so as to reduce the pressure on border states. However, the proposal was rejected by the European heads of state with the veto of the Visegrad countries. Indeed, the Commission has no powers to impose a relocation system mandatory, as migration policy is a shared competence with national governments: the lack of centralization creates an impasse for any reform plan based on burden sharing principles. The new proposal is therefore a more moderate version of that of 2016, with a revised concept of solidarity.
By trying to get everyone to agree, however, the Pact fails on several levels.
A downside compromise
The most unfulfilled expectation concerns the failure to overcome the Dublin Treaty, according to which it is the country of entry that is responsible for the reception and examination of the asylum application. This principle effectively leaves i Border countries alone in managing flows, creating bottlenecks in reception systems. However, the von der Leyen Commission identifies repatriation as the main problem of the overcrowding of reception systems, since 2 out of 3 asylum applications are refused but less than one in 3 of those who do not obtain asylum are repatriated. The proposed solution therefore follows the principle of “solidarity in repatriation” instead of solidarity in reception, requiring the mandatory but flexible participation of all Member States.
A quota of migrants is assigned to each country, who, however, can decide whether to provide accommodation in exchange for financial aid from the community budget, repatriate with own funds (return sponsorship), or subsidize reception by paying a contribution to a border state. A compulsory relocation scheme is foreseen only in the event of a crisis. There Minister of the Interior Lamorgese has already expressed concern rabout the mechanism of return sponsorship, finding it is impracticable for a country to deal with the repatriation of people who are not physically on its territory.
Furthermore, the lack of a sanction mechanism for States that do not respect the commitments made, it risks leading to a situation similar to that of the scheme for i voluntary relocation of asylum seekers: after two years, only 34,690 had been relocated of the more than 98,000 original recipients.
The new Pact also includes new measures for the assessment of asylum applications in order to reduce the timeframe, given that half of the practices require more than six months for examination in the first instance. They therefore become there are two evaluation procedures, one ordinary and one called “border procedure” (border procedure). Upon arrival, the asylum seeker will be identified, registered in the Eurodac database and, within 5 days, assigned to one of the two procedures. The border procedure is envisaged if the applicant comes from a country with low levels of acceptance, is considered a threat to national security, or in the case of fraudulent asylum requests. In this mode, the examination of the request must not take more than two months, with a single appeal, and if the request is denied, it will be accompanied by an expulsion order. However, the feasibility of these accelerated procedures without an important increase in qualified resources is not clear, especially considering the high number of accumulated open practices.
It is therefore clear how the main objective of the Pact is to make the expulsion procedure easier and faster. The attention devoted to this tool however, it is not accompanied by other measures for the management of migratory phenomena. The desire to intensify cooperation with countries of origin and transit relates almost exclusively to the management of irregular departures, rather than to a serious strengthening of regular entry channels that go beyond specialized workers. As we have already written on The print e HuffPost, reopening legal avenues and providing humanitarian corridors would be fundamental steps to regulate flows inbound, dismantle the foundations of the human trafficking business and prevent migration from becoming a traumatic or fatal experience.
What implications for Italy
Assuming that the new Plan passes the scrutiny of the European Council, what does it mean for our country? Search and rescue operations at sea remain the responsibility of the coastal countries. The proposal of “effective solidarity” does not compensate for the lack of Dublin reform, given that our country will continue to be responsible for managing first arrivals. Be the new border procedure both the idea of sponsorship of repatriation are important defects in terms of feasibility and implementation. For this, it is necessary that our country push for a more integrated and far-sighted reform, which includes the overcoming of the Dublin Treaty and a strengthening of regular access to achieve sustainable management of migration processes.