Global: European Parliament Approves Stringent Migration Reforms for Enhanced Repatriation

European Parliament Approves Stringent Migration Reforms for Enhanced Repatriation
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The European Parliament has enacted significant reforms to the EU’s migration and asylum policies aimed at streamlining the repatriation of irregular migrants to their countries of origin.

The EU Asylum and Migration Pact, which has been in the works since 2015 following extensive negotiations, is expected to be implemented within the next two years.

Last year saw a dramatic increase in illegal border crossings into the EU, with about 380,000 incidents recorded—the highest number since 2016.

Endorsement by Major Political Groups:

The reforms received backing from the two leading political groups in the parliament—the centre-right European People’s Party Group (EPP Group) and the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). This bipartisan support comes amidst significant political pressures from the right-wing factions ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for June.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the reform a “historic, indispensable step,” and Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, lauded it for achieving “a balance between solidarity and responsibility.” While acknowledging that the reforms would not solve all issues immediately, she noted they marked considerable progress.

Key Elements of the Asylum and Migration Pact:

The pact emphasizes “mandatory solidarity” among EU countries, combining it with a degree of flexibility. Member states will be obligated to accept thousands of migrants from frontline countries like Italy, Greece, and Spain, or alternatively, provide additional funding or resources.

The pact also intends to expedite the processing of asylum applications with “low chances of acceptance,” potentially processing them without entry into EU territory. It aims to resolve asylum requests within a maximum of 12 weeks and mandates the swift repatriation of rejected applicants within the same period.

Enhanced pre-entry screening measures will be implemented, including identification checks along with health and security screenings within seven days. Biometric data collection will be expanded to include migrants aged six and above, and provisions will be made to manage sudden spikes in migrant arrivals.

Challenges and Opposition:

Despite broad support, the pact faces resistance from certain member states. Hungary has declared its intention to reject irregular migrants regardless of the pact’s provisions, and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has criticized the mechanism requiring states to accept asylum seekers or contribute to an EU fund as unacceptable.

While many parliamentarians have expressed support for the pact, they also recognize that the agreement has its shortcomings, indicating ongoing debates and adjustments may be necessary.

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