European Union lawmakers on Thursday approved a series of proposals aimed at ending the yearslong standoff over how best to manage migration, a conundrum that has provoked one of the bloc’s biggest political crises.
The proposals — passed in a series of votes by a roughly two-thirds majority — include an emergency plan that would oblige the 27 EU nations to help one of their number should that country’s reception capacities be overwhelmed by the sudden arrival of people hoping to enter.
The measures make up the European Parliament’s position for negotiations with the EU member countries and set a clock ticking. The member countries now have a year to finally reform their creaking asylum system before Europe-wide elections are held in May 2024.
Should they fail to do so, the project might have to be abandoned or completely overhauled as it’s taken up by the next European Commission — the EU’s executive branch — and the new members of parliament.
Under existing rules, the country that people first land in must take responsibility for them. Greece, Italy and tiny Malta say that is unfair. They’ve demanded support and solidarity from their EU partners. But several countries refuse to accept the imposition of obligatory quotas of migrants.
The lawmakers now propose that any EU country hit by the sudden and mass arrival of people should activate a crisis mechanism. The commission would share out responsibility for the migrants using a pre-agreed “solidarity pool” based on annual support plans submitted by each member state.
Any migrant relocations would be based on these peoples’ “meaningful links” to a country they might be sent to, such as family ties, cultural similarities, or where they might have previously studied. Lawmakers hope this will discourage them from searching for a better place to stay.
Earlier this month, a U.N.-commissioned investigator accused the EU of aiding and abetting human rights abuses and other crimes against migrants with its support to the authorities in strife-torn Libya.