This opinion focuses on three of the nine instruments contained in the European Commission's new Pact on Migration and Asylum: a new screening regulation; an amended proposal revising the asylum procedures regulation (APR); and an amended proposal for a recast Eurodac regulation.
- believes that the new regulations make a positive contribution to more effective EU border security. An integrated, common EU strategy, one that is resilient and forward-looking, is much-needed and long overdue.
- believes however that the prospects for implementing the regulations appear problematic in several aspects.
- expresses its concerns about the new border procedures, especially relating to the need to protect the right to request asylum and to the following issues:
- the flawed concept of "countries with low asylum recognition rates";
- the use of ill-defined legal concepts ('security threat', 'public order') that give rise to legal uncertainty;
- foreign children between the ages of 12 and 18, who are also considered to be 'children' according the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- how and where people are going to be kept during the border procedure, and how to avoid legal limbo by guaranteeing the right to effective judicial protection.
- recognises the added value of and need for common, comprehensive and effective asylum procedures that comply with international conventions and legal guarantees, for EU and Member State confidence derived from tangible solidarity mechanisms and for fairly shared responsibilities/commitments. Yet such a common asylum system is not included in this Commission proposal.
- stresses that if "mandatory solidarity" does not take the form of "mandatory relocation" under the APR provisions, or if procedures are not created that allow people to apply for asylum in EU Member States without the need to cross EU borders, in practical terms the regulation will not be operational. There should be also incentives and disincentives for relocation, and in any case it should be possible for the APR process to be conducted in other Member States and not exclusively in the country of first entry.
- supports a more integrated and balanced IT migration management system based on an improved Eurodac database focusing on applications and applicants. Nevertheless, believes that the rules on determining the Member State responsible for processing an asylum application, at present laid down in the AMR, should be set out in the APR, providing an opportunity through Eurodac for claims to be processed by other Member States as well.
- is in favour of new, faster decision-making procedures at EU borders, respecting all fundamental rights, human rights and legal procedures, however there are a multitude of questions arise on their practical implementation.
- is concerned by the implementation of the new screening procedures of third country nationals at the external borders. This new mechanism increases pressure on those EU Member States with the EU's external maritime borders, and promotes the creation of closed centres at, or in the proximity of, the external borders.
- supports the EU framework putting in place uniform rules for the screening of irregular migrants apprehended within the territory and who eluded border controls on entering the Schengen area.
This opinion will focus on three of the nine instruments contained in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum released by the European Commission in November 2020. The opinion deals with: i) the new screening regulation; ii) the amended proposal revising the asylum procedures regulation; iii) the amended proposal for a recast Eurodac regulation. The EESC believes that the new regulations make a positive contribution to more effective EU border security. Nevertheless the EESC questions the effective implementation of the proposed new procedures and underlines that the effectiveness of the need to be constantly measured through systems monitoring respect for fundamental rights, particularly as regards the rights of vulnerable people.