The failure of the European Union’s migration policy could not have been laid out more starkly — an already miserable camp burned and thousands of refugees homeless. On Wednesday, two weeks after the destruction of the Moria camp on the Greek Island of Lesbos, Brussels will launch its latest proposal for EU asylum policy.Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson wants the 27 member states to share the burden of handling asylum claims from the migrants arrived on the bloc’s shores. And this time, the proposed system won’t be voluntary — a tough concession for many member capitals to swallow.
Alongside a way to distribute would-be refugees away from the coasts of Italy and Greece there will be tougher rules on sending home those whose claims are refused.But, five years after the 2015 migration crisis and with annual “irregular arrivals” down to 140,000 a year, EU members are still deeply divided on the issue. An emergency EU plan during that crisis to redistribute arrivals, pushed by Germany, was opposed and then ignored by Hungary and Poland, which took in zero asylum-seekers.European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said last week the proposal would replace the “Dublin Regulation” with “a new European migration governance system”.
The Dublin Regulation — which governs which member state handles a new arrival’s asylum claim — was established in 1990 and was reformed most recently in 2013. It states migrant asylum claims should be handled in the EU country where the applicant first enters the system, to prevent undocumented migrants flowing around the bloc. Johansson did not give AFP full details of the alternative scheme the Commission will unveil on Wednesday, but stressed that the key would be solidarity.
This does not necessarily mean, however, that recalcitrant anti-immigration regimes like that in Hungary would be obliged to resettle refugees. This would imply that countries that believe they can cope with welcoming more migrants would take some of the strain off the Greeks and Italians.Europe’s plan has been a long time coming and will be hard to sell to EU leaders, who meet for a summit in Brussels on Thursday focused on foreign affairs.