In the bid to reduce growing tensions within the European Union over migrant settlement patterns within the bloc, Brussels has unveiled a new proposal which Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos says will foster equal treatment of asylum seekers in whichever country they are and put an end to their irregular movement inside the EU the continent.
The Commission says the new proposals seek to harmonize asylum rules to limit the movement of refugees from one EU country to another – a key source of friction within the bloc.
According to analysts, the existing differences in asylum application procedures between EU states is what is pushing the irregular movement of migrants within the Union.
“These changes will create a truly common asylum application procedure and will guarantee the equal treatment of refugees, regardless of the country in which they submit their application,” Avramopoulos said.
The proposal – which must be debated in European Parliament and member-states – also aims to ensure that countries provide asylum applicants the same living conditions at reception centers and the same state support to all those that make an asylum application. They also entail that the same rules will apply on a wide range of issues – including access to employment, education, health services and others.
“Our aim is to chart a new migration policy and asylum policy that can be applied in all EU countries that will secure the interest of all EU citizens and that will deal with asylum applicants in a more humane way,” Avramopoulos said in an opinion piece published in Thursday’s Kathimerini.
For their part, refugees and migrants are urged to abide by the rules of the EU member-state they are located in, otherwise they will jeopardize their application.
Stricter rules will also apply to make migrants remain in the country they have submitted their asylum application.
This lack of a common policy to deal with the migration crisis has sowed tension within the bloc and posed a threat to the passport-free Schengen zone, as countries unilaterally shut down their borders to stop the flow of migrants.
The proposal came as the June results of the EU’s resettlement scheme fared well below expectations. The number of refugees resettled from Greece and Italy – that have borne the brunt of the crisis – came to 776, far below the target of a monthly rate of 6,000.
In total, since the beginning of the year, 3,056 refugees and migrants have been resettled – 2,213 from Greece and 843 from Italy – in other part of the EU, far below the target set by EU countries to welcome 56,000 within a two-year period. As to how to ensure that member-states will take part in the resettlement scheme, Avramopoulos said that Brussels “was not there yet.”