October 01, 2020

Luc Leboeuf, VULNER scientific coordinator, comments on the EU’s New Pact on Migration.

The New Pact on Migration and Asylum shows a welcome emphasis on solidarity among the EU Member States, recognizing that the management of the EU external borders is of common concern for the EU as a whole. But because it opts for a solidarity “à la carte” that allows the EU Member States to choose the kind of assistance they will offer, from the relocation of asylum seekers to support to border enforcement and returns to origin countries, it can be expected that Member States will mainly choose the latter - returns. This in turn incentivizes Member States to develop tougher border enforcement practices that give less consideration to migrants’ fundamental rights.  It is still not clear whether the additional protection mechanisms foreseen by the New Pact, such as the “vulnerability check” to be included in a new “pre-screening procedure” aimed at better identifying migrants crossing the border irregularly, will sufficiently guarantee effective access to protection for those entitled to it.

Much will depend, in the end, on the EU and its Member States’ ability to prevent future episodes of sudden increase in migrant movements. In that respect, the New Pact rightly emphasizes the need to further develop international cooperation with transit and origin countries while adopting a comprehensive and balanced approach, which includes further European engagement in resettlement and humanitarian admission schemes. It remains to be seen whether this commitment will be turned into practice. The underlying notion that proper migration governance requires multilateral forms of cooperation that also offer concrete solutions for migrants fleeing serious human rights violations, is not new. But its reaffirmation at a time of heightened divisions among European societies on how to manage migration to Europe is another distinctive feature of the New Pact.

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