Tuesday, July 23, 2024

EU countries have reached a “historic” deal to reform the immigration system


EU ministers agreed on how to share responsibility for caring for migrants and refugees, after 12 hours of negotiations, with Italy and Greece winning a deal that has eluded the bloc for nearly a decade.

Interior ministers from the 27-nation European Union sealed the deal on Thursday, hoping to end a 2015 split that saw more than a million people flee the war in Syria and cross the Mediterranean into the EU. .

German minister Nancy Weser described the deal as “historic”.

“This is a great achievement, it shows that it is possible to work together on immigration. We are stronger when we work together,” said Ylva Johansson, the camp’s interior commissioner.

Hosting migrants in the EU has become a contentious issue since 2015.

With difficulty agreeing how to share responsibility, EU countries focused on reducing the number of arrivals. UN data show that fewer than 160,000 people crossed the sea to attend last year.

About 2,500 people died or went missing during the dangerous crossing during the same period.

Countries on the EU’s southern edge, including Italy and Greece, have long called for more help to cope with the influx of people reaching their shores.

Eastern EU countries Poland and Hungary have refused to host anyone from the Muslim-majority Middle East and North Africa region, while right-wing and populist parties in the bloc have fueled the debate with their anti-immigration rhetoric.

During the ministerial address, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, her Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte and European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen announced they would visit Tunisia, a gateway for migration from Africa. Europe, to discuss economic and energy relations.

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Under the deal, which will be finalized before EU elections in 2024, each country is responsible for a certain number of people, but not required to take them in.

Countries that do not want to receive illegal immigrants and refugees arriving in the EU can help host countries with money by providing around 20 thousand euros per person, equipment or staff.

The deal would introduce a new accelerated border process for those deemed unlikely to be granted asylum, preventing them from staying inside the camp for years.

Poland and Hungary opposed the deal, and said EU leaders should discuss the issue when they meet in June. But it did not reach majority agreement.

Liberal critics of the deal said accelerated border action risks repeating the tragedies of Greek islands years ago by creating overcrowded and inadequate migrant camps on the EU’s fringes.

Rolf Colon
Rolf Colon
"Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert."

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