In this opinion the EESC supports further harmonisation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and welcomes the proposed improvements. However, it is concerned about some limitations of fundamental rights of asylum seekers. It sets out specific recommendations on the three proposals for: the Qualification Regulation, the Common Procedure Regulation and the Standards of Reception Directive, taking into account the human rights perspective, in line with the opinion on CEAS Reform I.
A New Pact on Migration and Asylum - Related Opinions
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The opinion welcomes the revision of the Blue Card, since it makes the card more attractive as a way of entering the EU.
However, the Committee considers that Commission's proposal to replace parallel national schemes with a single EU-wide scheme goes too far, and prefers that Member States maintain their own routes for admitting highly qualified workers alongside the EU Blue Card.
The opinion agrees with the measures to facilitate granting of the card, but expresses scepticism about the application of lower salary thresholds.
Finally the opinion recalls that equal opportunities and non-discrimination must be guaranteed in the employing of third-county nationals and that close involvement of national and European social partners is needed in this field.
An efficient reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is essential. While the EESC approves of the proposal to improve and speed up the determination of Member State responsible for examining an asylum application, it calls for including protective provisions on procedural issues, individual treatment of applications, maintenance of discretionary clauses, maintenance of the deadline for the cessation of obligation for a Member State to assume responsibility and the rights of applicants.
EU Member States face the arrival of many refugees, who need to be integrated into the host societies once their protected status is granted. The EESC is convinced that integration is a necessity for the preservation of social cohesion. This exploratory opinion, drawn up at the request of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, clarifies the meaning of "integration" and looks at comparability with previous refugee movements, successful integration measures applied in the various EU member states, and the financing of integration measures for refugees, resulting in a set of best practices and recommendations.
Delivering on the European Agenda on Migration from May, the European Commission has put forward a comprehensive package of proposals which should help address the refugee crisis by alleviating pressure from the most affected Member States. One of the measures announced was a Permanent Relocation Mechanism for all Member States.
The refugee crisis in the EU has reached the point at which the founding principles of human rights protection and democracy are being called into question. Despite the difficulties, EESC strongly believes that these principles must be upheld and properly implemented. The crisis relocation mechanism is a concrete example of cooperation based on solidarity and responsibility. However, the EESC wishes to have this relocation mechanism and other similar initiatives included as part of a general strategy in order to ensure coherence and efficiency.
On 13 May, the European Commission presented a European Agenda on Migration outlining the immediate measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years to better manage migration in all its aspects. The EESC welcomes the Commission's "European Agenda on Migration", which it believes symbolises a new-found understanding of the need to address migration at a European level, and encourages the Member States to collectively support the implementation of this Agenda.
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