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Refugees: MEPs call for humanitarian response and overhaul of asylum rules

06-10-2015

The new scheme to relocate asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU member states, dialogue with Turkey on cooperation to stem and manage migration flows, and budget measures to respond to the unprecedented refugee crisis, were among the topics tackled in Tuesday morning’s debate with European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the outcome of the 23 September informal EU summit.

MEPs regretted the European Council’s apparent lack of ambition to tackle the most serious refugee crisis since World War II. Some advocated reforming the Dublin rules (for determining which member state is responsible for handling asylum applications), opening legal migration channels and fighting smugglers criminal networks. Measures such as strengthening controls at the EU's external borders and identifying, registering and fingerprinting migrants at the “hotspots” were also addressed in the debate.

Humanitarian concern for refugees as winter draws nigh

The humanitarian situation of refugees within the EU and neighbouring countries was the focus of a second debate with Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Luxembourg's minister for relations with the European Parliament during the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Nicolas Schmit.

"The tough period is now, we can expect to see an increase in refugee flows before we are fully into the winter months. This is also a time when difficult decisions have to be taken to ensure the ‘hotspots’ are fully implemented and the budget is made available for the very EU responses the Council has committed to", said the Chair of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, responsible for migration and asylum, Claude Moraes (S&D, UK).

Migration will also be high on the agenda of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 October and of the next European summit on 15-16 October.

You can watch the recording of the plenary debates on Video on Demand (VOD).

Note to editors

Parliament and Council to co-decide on migration and asylum rules

The European Commission’s current proposals under the co-decision procedure, on which Parliament and Council legislate on an equal footing, are for:

  • a permanent relocation mechanism for asylum seekers within the EU - rapporteur: Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK),
  • an EU common list of safe countries of origin – rapporteur: Sylvie Guillaume (S&D, FR),
  • changes to the Dublin rules for determining which member state is responsible for processing applications for international protection of unaccompanied minors – rapporteur: Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE),
  • a review of the EU Visa Code, including provisions on humanitarian visas – rapporteur: Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES),
  • a legal migration measure on entry and living conditions for non-EU students and researchers - rapporteur: Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE), and
  • the “smart borders” package, including a proposal for an "entry-exit system" to prevent overstaying in the EU, and thus irregular migration – rapporteurs: Agustín Díaz de Mera (EPP, ES), for the entry-exit system, and Tanja Fajon (S&D, SL), for the registered traveller programme (the Commission is expected to present a new "smart borders" package in late 2015/early 2016).

Further proposals due in late 2015/early 2016

Further proposals to be presented by the Commission in December 2015/March 2016, on which Parliament should also have co-decision powers, will include:

  • strengthening the EU’s Frontex border agency, enhancing its mandate, and taking steps towards establishing a European Border and Coast Guard,
  • a permanent scheme for resettling refugees now in third countries across the EU (a proposed mechanism for relocating those already in EU countries across the EU is already on the table),
  • reform of the Dublin regulation, and
  • a “legal migration” package, including a revision of the “Blue Card” directive.

The European Parliament's committee responsible for migration and asylum is the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee. The budgetary support measures will be dealt with by Parliament’s Budgets Committee.

Video recording of the debate (click on 6.10.2015)