Migrants will soon be distributed more fairly across the EU countries. But the shelter can also be bought off. It is thought to be 20,000 euros per head. A ‘bargain’ for the Netherlands.
That is one of the proposals that European ministers will consider tomorrow to get migration under control. Secretary of State Eric van der Burg (VVD) will be present for the Netherlands.
On the table is a proposal for a European ‘migration pact’. The European Commission already came up with this in 2020, the European Parliament has determined its position, only the 27 member states were not yet able to bridge their differences. There has been movement in recent weeks. For example, the countries have now agreed on better screening and registration at the external borders of the EU. Every asylum seeker who enters there will soon undergo a health and safety check, his fingerprints will be taken and he will be registered in a database. After that, he or she enters the asylum procedure.
Part of the migration pact is that people from countries where normally only 20 percent or less of the requests made are granted, enter a special procedure. And it is settled at the border. If the procedure then ends in a rejection, they can easily be sent back, or as it is called in Brussels: accept the return journey. This should considerably reduce the problem of ‘hopeless’ asylum seekers, the ‘safe landers’, who are now causing nuisance in Ter Apel, for example.
House of Representatives
During a debate with Van der Burg on Wednesday in the House of Representatives, there was a lot about the border procedure, and in particular whether minors may also be subjected to it. According to the Dutch State Secretary, this is necessary, otherwise more children than now will be sent ahead, in the hope of eventually being able to come across as a family through family reunification. And a 19-year-old Moroccan boy can also tear up his passport and pretend to be a minor, the state secretary said.
But in other countries of Europe, another part of the migration pact is a hotter issue: the so-called ‘solidarity mechanism’. Countries where many migrants arrive, such as Italy and Greece, will soon be able to count on solidarity from other countries. It is still the case that this solidarity does exist in words, but in practice those southern border countries receive by far the most people. And formally, the so-called Dublin rules from the beginning of this century still apply, to which the Netherlands also attach great importance: the country where the refugee enters must take care of the asylum procedure and reception. The southern countries can’t handle that and that’s why they sometimes – or even often – allow people to travel to the north unhindered.
The current situation is replaced in the migration pact by mandatory solidarity: asylum seekers are distributed more fairly among the countries. A distribution key is also agreed for this (the Netherlands: 4.95 percent). But as a senior EU diplomat said: “It is mandatory, but also flexible.” Each country can decide for itself what its solidarity looks like. So a country can be’fair share‘ to migrants, or instead pay a sum of money to the country that does want to take them into proceedings. The amount on the table on Thursday is 20,000 euros per person. Payment can also be made in kind: with beds, tents or blankets.
For the Netherlands that would be a bargain, as you hear in Brussels: the reception in our country costs considerably more. But the Eastern European countries in particular see it as a fine for not cooperating with EU policy, and want the amount considerably lower. Incidentally, Prime Minister Rutte has previously emphasized that the Netherlands really wants to receive migrants, once there are good agreements.
The buyout follows a long discussion about how solidarity between EU countries should be shaped, an EU diplomat explains. During the refugee crisis of 2016, it was about compulsory readmission of people, but Hungary and Poland in particular did not want to do that. Then there was talk of ‘voluntary’ solidarity, but then the southern member states were again afraid that the others would keep saying: I want to, but it’s not convenient right now. “This is the middle ground between the two.”
The solidarity mechanism must also work the other way around: southern countries no longer allow refugees to simply travel on to the north. And they must take back refugees who have nevertheless traveled on and start a new asylum procedure in another Member State. Here the discussion is still about how long countries where migrants first arrive remain responsible for their reception. What to do with people who disappear illegally and turn up years later in another country? The proposal was three years, but has since been reduced to two years. The southern countries think that is much too long, the northern countries prefer it a little longer.
Strict Brussels supervision of implementation is also provided for, a point that the Netherlands is also insisting on. If Italy, for example, appeals for solidarity, it will first be checked whether the country also adheres to its side of the agreements: taking back asylum seekers who have traveled illegally.
All measures taken together will ensure that migration flows can be better controlled, a senior EU diplomat said on Wednesday. Provided, therefore, that the countries reach an agreement on Thursday or at a later date – a qualified majority will suffice – and then manage to reconcile their common position with that of the European Parliament. Those negotiations are still ongoing.
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