In an interview with ANSA and other European media outlets, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson explained the new migration and asylum pact due to be unveiled on September 23, stressing that nobody will find ideal solutions but rather a well-balanced compromise that will ''improve the situation''.
European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson has explained in an interview with a group of European journalists, including ANSA, a new pact on asylum and migration to be presented on September 23. She touched on rules for countries of first entry, a new mechanism of mandatory solidarity, fast repatriations and refugee relocation.
The Swedish commissioner said that no one will find ideal solutions in the European Commission's new asylum and migration proposal but rather a good compromise that "will improve the situation".
She said the debate to change the asylum regulation known as Dublin needs to be played down in order to find an agreement. Johansson said an earlier 2016 reform plan would be withdrawn as it ''caused the majority'' of conflicts among countries.
A new proposal that will replace the current one and amend the existing Dublin regulation will be presented, she explained.
The current regulation will not be completely abolished but rules regarding frontline countries will change. Under the new proposal, migrants can still be sent back to the country responsible for their asylum request, explained the commissioner, adding that amendments will be made but the country of first entry will ''remain important''.
''Voluntary solidarity is not enough," there has to be a "mandatory solidarity mechanism," Johansson noted.
Countries will need to help according to their size and possibilities. A member state needs to show solidarity ''in accordance with the capacity and size'' of its economy. There will be no easy way out with the possibility of ''just sending some blankets'' - efforts must be proportional to the size and capabilities of member states, she said.
Relocations are a divisive theme
Relocations will be made in a way that ''can be possible to accept for all member states'', the commissioner explained. The issue of mandatory quotas is extremely divisive, she went on to say. ''The sentence of the European Court of Justice has established that they can be made''.
However, the theme is extremely divisive. Many of those who arrive in Europe are not eligible for international protection and must be repatriated, she said, wondering if it is a good idea to relocate those who need to be repatriated.
"We are looking for a way to bring the necessary aid to countries under pressure."
"Relocation is an important part, but also" it must be done "in a way that can be possible to accept for all member states," she noted.
Moreover, Johansson said the system will not be too rigid as the union should prepare for different scenarios.
Repatriations will be a key part of the plan, with faster bureaucratic procedures, she said. The 2016 reform proposal was made following the 2015 migration crisis, when two million people, 90% of whom were refugees, reached the EU irregularly. For this reason, the plan focused on relocations, she explained.
Now the situation is completely different: last year 2.4 million stay permits were issued, the majority for reasons connected to family, work or education. Just 140,000 people migrated irregularly and only one-third were refugees while two-thirds will need to be repatriated.
For this reason, stressed the commissioner, the new plan will focus on repatriation. Faster procedures are necessary, she noted. When people stay in a country for years it is very hard to organize repatriations, especially voluntary ones. So the objective is for a negative asylum decision "to come together with a return decision."
Also, the permanence in hosting centers should be of short duration. Speaking about a fire at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos where more than 12,000 asylum seekers have been stranded for years, the commissioner said the situation was the ''result of lack of European policy on asylum and migration."
"We shall have no more Morias'', she noted, calling for well-managed hosting centers along with limits to permanence.
A win-win collaboration will instead be planned with third countries, she said. ''The external aspect is very important. We have to work on good partnerships with third countries, supporting them and finding win-win solutions for readmissions and for the fight against traffickers. We have to develop legal pathways to come to the EU, in particular with resettlements, a policy that needs to be strengthened."
The commissioner then rejected the idea of opening hosting centers in third countries, an idea for example proposed by Denmark.
"It is not the direction I intend to take. We will not export the right to asylum."
The commissioner said she was very concerned by reports of refoulements. Her objective, she concluded, is to "include in the pact a monitoring mechanism. The right to asylum must be defended."