This breakthrough was supposed to come on Thursday during consultations between the European Interior and Justice Ministers. But Italy proved difficult at the last minute. European Commissioner Ylva Johansson (Home Affairs) pledged after the consultation that there are no longer any insurmountable obstacles. “The agreement will be reached within a few days.” Spanish Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska, who chaired the meeting, said he was “completely certain” of reaching a good result early next week.
The compromise text that was on the table gives member states full of migrants the option of detaining them for up to forty weeks, instead of the usual 24 weeks. The pool eligible for detention will also be increased significantly. This gives member states under significant migration pressure extra time to initiate asylum procedures, as well as to seek assistance from other EU countries.
Word of strength
There has been no movement at all in negotiations between European Union countries regarding regulating the crisis for months. The shift came this week after Germany changed its position. After Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s speech of power, the Green Party in the German coalition stopped opposing the new European rules, which they consider too harsh. German Minister Nancy Weiser agreed that parts of the settlement were difficult for the government in Berlin. However, Weiser believes it is time to put an end to the European political impasse that human smugglers are taking advantage of.
This seems to indicate that a majority was present. Although Poland and Hungary opposed this proposal – they believe that the EU’s asylum laws are too weak and only encourage immigration – these two countries were able to outvote them. However, Italy unexpectedly withheld its agreement, and without Rome agreement on new asylum laws was an illusion. This year, 250,000 irregular migrants arrived in Europe, the majority of them in Italy.
The Italian minister opposed canceling the proposed reductions in receiving migrants in times of crisis. Text change made specifically at German request. Rome also wants to take action against boats of refugee organizations transporting migrants in the Mediterranean.
European Union officials explained Italian resistance as anger at the long wait for Berlin. Surrendering to Germany immediately after the time had finally come was too far for Rome. The Spanish minister spoke about the final wrinkles that European Union ambassadors will work to resolve next week.
If the agreement between EU countries is finalized next week, there will still be no law. The European Parliament must also agree, and it has not yet taken a position on regulating the crisis. Member states and Parliament must also agree on other parts of the Migration Charter – a proposal put forward by the Commission in 2020. The parliamentarians demand the mandatory distribution of migrants across EU countries, something that is considered taboo in many countries.
GroenLinks MEP Tineke Strik expects very difficult negotiations. It rejects large parts of the proposed asylum policy. On the other hand, her CDA colleague Jeroen Lenners welcomes the proposals. He describes crisis regulation as “a fair balance between taking responsibility and mutual solidarity.”
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