EU Pact on Migration: a “fresh start” for human rights violations

Today, the European Commission has published its “New Pact on Asylum and Migration” which proposes a new policy and legislative framework. With this new plan, the EU is effectively becoming the largest “return travel agency” for migrants and refugees across the Mediterranean. EuroMed Rights fears this pact will only worsen the current situation for at least three reasons.

The pact focuses quite obsessively on returns through a “sponsoring” system: EU countries such as Austria, Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic – who refuse to welcome refugees – will be able to “sponsor” and conduct the deportation to the countries of origin of these refugees. Instead of favouring integration, the pact embraces a policy based on returns at any cost, even when asylum seekers could be subject to discrimination, persecution and torture in their return country. To this day, there are no mechanisms to monitor what happens to migrants and refugees who are deported.

The proposed pact reinforces the outsourcing of border management. In concrete terms, this means the EU reinforces cooperation with non-EU countries asking them to seal their borders and prevent people from leaving. This cooperation is subject to the imposing of conditions by the EU. Such a decision from the EU translates into more pushbacks across the Mediterranean region and further cooperation with countries that have a poor human rights record and do not possess an effective framework for the protection of the rights of people on the move.

The pact finally aims to extend mechanisms to assess asylum seekers and migrants in the countries they first enter. This “screening” model – similar to the one used in airport transit zones – increases the burden on countries like Spain, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus who receive the largest number of migrants and refugees. Placing people in camps to conduct this assessment is akin to an illegal system of automatic detention after arrival. It increases the psychological violence to which migrants and refugees are submitted. According to the new system, people will be identified within a maximum of five days and any asylum application must be processed within 12 weeks. This speeded-up procedure risks intensifying detention and risks dividing people between asylum seekers and economic migrants. This would be done in a discriminatory way, without any proper analysis of each asylum claim nor possibility to really appeal. Those eligible for international protection will be relocated among the EU Member States willing to take them in, while the others will be at risk of immediate deportation

By choosing to further externalise border management and increase returns, this new pact concludes the EU’s turn towards a full security-based approach. Even worse, the pact assimilates the “sponsored return” policy to a form of solidarity. Beyond the official statements, it shows the European Union’s willingness to criminalise and dehumanise migrants and refugees,” declared Wadih Al-Asmar, President of EuroMed Rights.

You can read EuroMed Rights’ full submission to the European Commission regarding the “New Pact on Asylum and Migration” on our website.