Migration pact eyes ‘mandatory solidarity’ in EU

Migration pact eyes ‘mandatory solidarity’ in EU

A new migration and asylum pact unveiled by the European Union’s executive on Wednesday seeks to strike a balance between a solidarity mechanism that would take pressure off frontline countries and mandatory relocation quotas that have been staunchly resisted by a number of member-states.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the proposal as a “fresh start” that strikes a “fair and reasonable balance between responsibility and solidarity.” “It is not a question of whether member-states should support with solidarity and contributions, but how they should do it,” she said.

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, who co-authored the pact with Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, told Kathimerini that the new agreement gives the executive “a decisive role in the management of the solidarity mechanism.” 

“Ultimately, if member-states do not provide the required support, the Commission will be able to take corrective action,” he said.

The form of this support, however, will be left to the discretion of the member-states, while the Commission’s scope for “corrective” interventions is limited.

According to the proposal, the solidarity mechanism can be activated in the case of a sudden influx or crisis in a member-state and would give other member-states the option of being assigned a certain number of migrants and refugees or assuming responsibility for their return. It also seeks to strengthen and improve reception and monitoring mechanisms at the European Union’s borders, “so that people do not have to wait in limbo,” said Johansson. 

In a related development, the European Commission on Wednesday also announced the establishment of a task force that will work with the Greek authorities on the creation of a new reception center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos to replace the Moria camp, which was destroyed in a fire earlier his month.