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What are the most important objectives and axes of the European Charter on Migration and Asylum?

The European Union faces many challenges, including irregular migration and the issue of political asylum. Among the solutions proposed by the European Commission to end this problem is the ratification of the Migration and Asylum Charter. What does this charter mean and what are its objectives? What is the view of the political parties which will present themselves in the European elections?

After years of controversy and political disagreement, the European Union gave the green light on May 14 to the adoption of a European Charter on Migration and Asylum, which will be implemented gradually until its full implementation. implemented in 2026.

Its objective is to combat illegal immigration and reduce regular immigration, as well as to complicate procedures for obtaining political asylum in European Union countries. It also obliges EU countries to share the financial burden resulting from welcoming immigrants arriving illegally on their territory. This is what some countries led by nationalist parties, such as Hungary, Poland, Austria and Slovakia, reject.

It was the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who was the first to propose the idea of ​​this project in her electoral program. This was during his candidacy for elections in July 2019.

But differences in visions and in the way each country approached the issue of immigration kept the idea in the drawers of the European Parliament for many years before being revived. This is explained by the wave of illegal immigration that Europe has faced in recent months, on the one hand, and by the approach of the European elections, scheduled for June 9, on the other hand.

What are the most important objectives and axes of the European Charter on Migration and Asylum?
Protesters wave a giant European Union flag during their protest against the controversial ‘foreign agents’ bill. Tbilisi on April 28, 2024. ©AFP

Below you will find some information to understand the meaning and objectives of the European Charter on Migration and Asylum, as well as the position of European parties on it.

What do we mean by the European Convention on Migration and Asylum?

This is a charter ratified on May 14, 2024 by the European Union with the objective of combating illegal immigration and imposing the principle of assistance and support between all member states of the Union.

The Charter will come into force definitively in 2026, but the European Commission has decided to present its broad outlines at the end of June, that is to say after the European elections.

The European Charter on Migration and Asylum aims to reform migration policy within the European Union, which has been the subject of numerous and severe criticism from some national governments and staunch far-right parties. that all the policies implemented since the crisis and that Europe in 2015 and 2016 have not borne fruit.

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It should be noted that since 2000, the processing of asylum and immigration applications has been the responsibility of the countries where migrants first arrive, in accordance with the Dublin Treaty.

This has caused Italy and Greece to face a massive influx of illegal immigrants, arriving on their shores via “death” boats. On the other hand, the majority of countries located in Eastern Europe refused to welcome illegal immigrants into their territory until the outbreak of the Russian war in Ukraine (February 24, 2024).

What are the objectives of the Charter?

First: strengthen controls at the external borders of European Union countries

This means that European Union countries will open “detention centers” or receive migrants near the external borders of European Union countries and at certain airports to carry out “screening” operations.

These centers will be able to accommodate 30,000 migrants and will be financed by the European Union, the European Refugee Agency and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).

The aim of the control operations is to determine whether illegal immigrants should be returned to their country of origin if they are refused asylum. The eviction procedure must not exceed a period of 7 days. During the deportation process, their fingerprints and all their personal data will be taken, such as their identity, date and place of birth, etc.

As for immigrants eligible for political asylum, they must submit a complete application and wait for a response within a period not exceeding 12 weeks. After this deadline for studying the files, immigrants who have received a positive response can enter the European area.

What are the most important objectives and axes of the European Charter on Migration and Asylum?
European Union flags fly in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Belgium on April 10, 2019. © Reuters.

Second: Strengthen solidarity between the countries of the Union to fight against illegal immigration

In the event that a large number of illegal immigrants arrive in certain countries of the European Union, in particular those overlooking the Mediterranean, the European Commission will have the right to activate what is called the “solidarity mechanism” between Member States.

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EU countries have two options: either welcome some of the migrants and asylum seekers on their territory, or grant financial aid to the affected country to build reception centers while awaiting screening operations.

The European Union wants to distribute asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to all EU countries in the near future. Any country that refused to welcome its share of immigrants would pay a fine of 20,000 euros for each immigrant. As such, France should accommodate 4,000 people out of 30,000.

A solidarity fund will also be created between member states to provide financial support to any country facing a migration crisis.

Third: Coordinate the implementation of the Charter between all the countries of the Union

The objective is to guarantee that each country applies the same laws and respects all the procedures provided for by the Charter, particularly with regard to the political asylum file, and is fair in the treatment of asylum seeker files.

In this regard, one of the missions of the European Union Agency for Asylum, established in January 2022 to succeed the former European Asylum Office, is to provide legal support and advice to countries that examine asylum cases, as well as to train lawyers in this area. field.

Fourth: Facilitate the process of returning illegal immigrants to their countries of origin

The European Commission has proposed intensifying agreements with migrants’ countries of origin in order to allow the return of their citizens whose administrative status has not been resolved. In return, the Commission has committed to increasing the number of travel visas for countries welcoming their citizens expelled from Europe. According to European Union statistics, the percentage of illegal immigrants who return to their country of origin is estimated at around 21 percent.

What is the position of the European parties participating in the elections on this charter?

Right-wing republican parties in Europe have welcomed this charter and see it as an effective solution to the illegal immigration crisis.

As for the nationalist and far-right parties, they believe that the charter will not solve the immigration problem because it is too flexible. For example, the French National Rally proposed that the files of asylum seekers be studied in French embassies and consulates in their country and that they not come to France.

He also proposed that all illegal immigrants arriving in European Union countries should be deported and that their files should not be studied or received automatically. In addition, ultranationalist parties, notably in Hungary, Slovakia and the Netherlands, have proposed imposing controls at the internal rather than external borders of the European Union.

Will the results of the European elections scheduled for next Sunday change the fate of this charter?

Taher Hani

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