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European Commission proposes asylum policy reform

European media report that the European Commission presented on Wednesday its project to harmonise the asylum legislation in Europe. Indeed, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos proposed a new regulation on EU member states’ rules on asylum-seekers, Corriere della Sera reports.

This would prevent migrants from travelling to a state that offers better conditions. In the UK, The Daily Telegraph writes about “strict” new rules for migrants, as those who refuse to give fingerprints in their country of arrival, or who move between member states, will have their claims automatically rejected, and face deportation. The EC will grant €10,000 from the EU budget for each person resettled under the quota schemes, and will also provide refugees with legal assistance, L’Echo indicates in Belgium.

Moreover, the European Commission wants the send a message that the EU’s external borders will be adequately protected, Le Figaro reports. The European border control agency Frontex will therefore increase its budget and human resources, from €250 to €330 million in 2017 and from 350 to 1,000 employees by 2020.Commissioner Avramopoulos said the Commission’s job is not to “punish” states, with sanctions for not abiding by the relocation scheme, but to “persuade”.

In an article for Večernji list, Commissioners Avramopoulos and Mimica write that the EU wants to protect the interest of its 500 million inhabitants, while being humane towards asylum seekers, and that each EU member state has to contribute. The common asylum policy would include legal assistance for asylum seekers, as well as a comprehensive list of safe third countries, and a waiting period of six months for working permits. For asylum seekers from countries with a high acceptance rate, the period may be reduced to three months, ARD indicates in Germany.

Belgian Le Soir wonders if such a plan will lead to more solidarity from member states. Plans keep being suggested but the accommodation of refugees remains unequal. De Tijd adds that Belgium accommodated 333 refugees even though it had promised it would accommodate 1,100 of them one year ago. In an article in Il Sole-24 Ore, Beda Romano notes that the number of migrants relocated within Europe under last year’s plan continues to be “disappointing”, with the Commission admitting that only 3,056 of the 160,000 have been transferred so far.

In an article in Corriere della Sera, Ivo Caizzi writes that the attempts to reform the Dublin regulations have “practically evaporated”, and that is why Commissioner Avramopoulos has “set aside” the Commission’s more ambitious goals. In Hungary, Parliamentary Secretary of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office Csaba Dömötör reacted to the proposal by saying the EC keeps forcing mandatory relocation and keeps coming up with plans to legalise migration.

In an interview with Die Welt, Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka expresses his opposition to granting asylum applicants work permits, as it would encourage citizens of countries in crisis to move to Europe. However, in Die Welt, Jacques Schuster describes the European Commission’s suggestion for a common asylum policy as a “truly European solution.” He concludes that “pragmatism, not utopia” will save the European idea.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency has reported that the number of unaccompanied minors making the crossing from Africa to Italy has more than doubled this year, The Times reports.




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