In Brief

Four things we know about the European Union’s new migrant plan

Member states are split over new pact aimed at ending migration disputes

The European Union has outlined a new migration scheme aimed at ending disputes between member states over the distribution of people landing on European shores.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen yesterday unveiled the plan to overhaul the bloc’s asylum procedures, saying it would “unify European capitals behind a common migration policy” and calling it a “European solution to restore citizens’ confidence”. 

Here are four key takeaways from the new migration scheme.

Shared responsibility for ‘Fortress Europe’

Since 2015, Greece and Italy have had to “manage the waves of people arriving on their shores”, while other countries further from the frontline have refused to take migrants at certain points, Politico says. The new rules share the spread of migrants by hosting asylum seekers or sponsoring returns of failed applicants.

The law also “aims to strengthen control of Europe’s external borders, with new plans to screen all migrants and fast track those unlikely to get asylum”, Voice of America adds.

No opting out

Unveiling the new plan, Von Der Leyen said “it is not a question of whether member states should support with solidarity and contributions but how they should support”.

However, member states such as Poland and Hungary have “resolutely resisted plans for mandatory sharing in the past” and thus it is “unlikely that money or EU plans for quicker processing of asylum claims will change their views”, the BBC reports.

Politico also notes that parts of the plan will be tailored, with “each member country’s needs assessed and a mixture of help in relocating some asylum seekers within the EU,” it says.

Rising from the ashes

The backdrop to the negotiation of the commission’s new scheme was the recent fire at Moria, Europe’s largest migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. 

Marie De Somer, migration head of the European Policy Centre, described the fire as “horrible”, adding that it showed to the wider public the “urgency and importance of coming to a European solution” to the migrant crisis.

It has split the room

Despite EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson’s prediction that “no-one will be satisfied” with the plan, German officials have called it a “good basis for discussion” between member states, while Greece praised the pact for facilitating stronger border controls, The Guardian reports.

But not everyone is convinced, with a statement from the Hungarian Parliament saying its stance has been “clear and unchanged”. The country added the EU “should form alliances with countries of origin, so that they are able to provide proper living standards and ensure that their people do not have to leave their homelands”.

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