The European Commission on Wednesday launched a fresh bid to improve the way the burden of migration is shared among member states of the European Union (EU) and the mechanism for the return of rejected asylum seekers.
“Migration is complex… We want to live up to our values and at the same time face the challenges of a globalized world,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, acknowledging that the old system Europe used to deal with migration “no longer works.”
“It is not a question whether member states should support with solidarity and contributions, but how they should do it,” she said when announcing the commission’s Package on Migration and Asylum.
“Together we have to show that Europe manages migration in a humane and effective way,” she said, adding that the new package offers “the right balance between solidarity and responsibility.”
The new pact has been brought forward as Italy, Greece and Malta plead for help from the EU to share the burden of migration.
It also comes after a fire ripped through an overcrowded camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, leaving many migrants homeless.
The pact proposes improved cooperation between countries of destination and countries of origin and transit, ensuring effective procedures, successful integration of refugees and return of those who have no right to stay.
European Commission Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said the incident in Greece was “a stark reminder that the clock has run out on how long we can live in a house half-built.”
“The pact provides the missing pieces of the puzzle for a comprehensive approach to migration,” he said. “No one member state experiences migration in the same way and the different and unique challenges faced by all deserve to be recognized, acknowledged and addressed.”
Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, said the new set of proposals will mean “clear, fair and faster border procedures, so that people do not have to wait in limbo.” They will also enhance efforts to find “fast returns, more legal pathways and strong actions to fight human smugglers.”
The proposals will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.