New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum: a missed opportunity for a much-needed fresh start

The new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum was strongly criticised during a high-level conference held by the EESC. Representatives of civil society, think tanks and the European Parliament found that the new pact does not deliver the changes needed to create a proper common European migration and asylum system.

On 26 November stakeholders including the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council, think tanks, social partners and civil society organisations took part in a virtual hearing on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The conference, organised by the Social Affairs section (SOC) of the EESC, explored whether the new pact brings about the systemic change necessary to overcome the current deadlock and develop a sustainable, rational and rights-based EU asylum and migration policy.

Criticism from different panellists focused on three main aspects: the chosen legislative path, underpinned by intergovernmentalism and allowing negotiations to start before the submission of a legislative proposal by the Commission; the dualistic understanding of migrants as either real refugees or expellable illegal individuals; and the newly introduced return sponsorship mechanism, allowing Member States to contribute to solidarity by carrying out other countries' expulsion procedures.

The members of the EESC study group on this initiative regretted that the pact devoted most of its proposals to the management of external borders, while failing to pay due attention to regular channels of immigration, safe pathways for asylum, or the inclusion and integration of non-EU nationals in the EU. "We are a bit disappointed by the content of this pact," said José Antonio Moreno Díaz, EESC rapporteur for the opinion on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. "We hope for a more ambitious and constructive pact that is more realistic with respect to human rights." (na)