Commission calls time on asylum reform stalling
Ahead of the December European Council, the Commission is calling on Member States and the European Parliament to consolidate the significant progress made by adopting the outstanding reform proposals.
The EU's comprehensive approach on migration is delivering on all fronts: deeper cooperation with partner countries; better-protected external borders; and more effective tools to manage migration inside the EU. With irregular arrivals down to pre-crisis levels, now is the time to address remaining weaknesses. Work needs to continue at operational level, both externally and internally, and Member States and the European Parliament should swiftly complete the EU's asylum reform and in particular adopt the 5 proposals where there is broad political agreement before next year's European Parliamentary elections. Time and again, the EU has proven able to meet new migration challenges as they have arisen. Today's report looks at how the EU is constantly working to manage migration in all its aspects – from external action to border management to internal measures.
External Dimension: Partnerships that deliver
Through an integrated, “whole of the route” approach, major progress has been achieved by the EU and its Member States in preventing irregular migration and fighting migrant smuggling. Along the Eastern Mediterranean Route, arrivals dropped by 97% after the EU-Turkey Statement and today remain 90% less than at the peak in 2015. Along the Central Mediterranean route (see Factsheet), irregular flows have been reduced by 80%. Nearly 34,000 persons received assistance to voluntarily return to their home countries from Libya and Niger, while over 2,000 people have been evacuated from Libya in view of further resettlement. To improve cooperation on return and readmission, 6 new arrangements have been agreed since 2016 (with Afghanistan, Guinea, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Côte d'Ivoire), bringing the total number to 23. In parallel, work to ensure legal pathways and resettlement is ongoing with more than 44,000 persons resettled under EU schemes since 2015. The fight against smuggling networks is progressing, with EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia having apprehended 151 suspected smugglers since 2015 and the Joint Investigation Team's actions in Niger resulting in 221 arrests. To address root causes, innovative funding instruments have been put in place, with more than €4 billion mobilised under the EU Trust Fund for Africa, and 12 guarantee tools worth €800 million adopted under the External Investment Plan. Moving forward, the same integrated approach will be applied to the Western Mediterranean (see Factsheet) where flows have been increasing; work along the Central Mediterranean will be consolidated and efforts to conclude ongoing readmission negotiations and make better use of existing arrangements will be intensified.
Stronger border management
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency is at the core of the EU's work to support Member States in protecting the external borders. In September, the Commission proposed to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard further and equip the Agency with a standing corps of 10,000 border guards (see Factsheet) to ensure that Member States can rely on full EU operational support at all times. The Commission is calling on the European Parliament and Member States to adopt the reform before the European Parliament elections next year. In addition, the EU's work on establishing new, interoperable border and security information exchange systems is starting to show results. A number of measures are currently being finalised, including the European Travel Authorisation and Information System (ETIAS), improvements to the Visa Information System (VIS) and to the Schengen Information System (SIS) and the establishment of an Entry-Exit System for non-EU citizens. In the light of the efforts made to improve external border management and the resulting reduction of arrivals, the Commission believes the time has come to lift the temporary controls at internal Schengen borders set in place by some Member States since 2015. New figures (see Factsheet) published today confirm that the Schengen area continues to garner strong public support and is seen by Europeans as one of the EU's main achievements.
Internal measures: Completing the reform of the EU's asylum rules
While compromise is still needed on some elements of the EU's asylum reform, significant progress has been made overall, with 5 out of the Commission's initial 7 proposals ready for adoption (Qualification Regulation, Reception Conditions Directive, European Asylum Agency Regulation, Eurodac Regulation, Union Resettlement Framework Regulation). Although part of a broader reform, each individual proposal has a clear benefit on its own and swift adoption of each one would make a clear difference on the ground. Concerning the Asylum Procedure Regulation, the Council should adopt its negotiating position by the end of the year and start negotiations with the European Parliament. A way forward must now also be found on the Dublin Regulation, an indispensable element of a future-proof asylum system. The Commission is committed to working towards a compromise that ensures full solidarity and support for Member States under pressure while preventing secondary movements and abuse of the system. Building on the experience made with ad hoc solutions over the summer, temporary arrangements anticipating the core elements of a future Dublin Regulation could be set up as of now, to serve as a bridge until the new Dublin regulation enters into force.
Communication: Managing Migration in all its aspects
Reform of the Common European Asylum System:
4 December 2018