The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) endorsed the mandate on a vote on Thursday by a board majority of 390 to 175 against with 44 abstentions, entitling the EU legislator body to start talks on revamping the Dublin system to ensure that asylum seekers are fairly shared among EU member states.
Parliament can now begin talks with the Council as soon as EU member states have agreed their own negotiating position.
The key principles of the draft report approved by the Parliamentary Committee are that all EU member states must participate and share responsibility for asylum seekers, to reduce the disproportionate burden on “frontline” member states, security measures should be stepped up.
According to the report, all asylum seekers must be registered upon arrival and member states must maintain their external borders, asylum seekers should follow the rules of the system and not attempt to move between countries on their own, and faster procedures. Furthermore, people in need of international protection should get it much faster, whilst also allowing those who do not have the right to stay to be returned to their home countries in a swift and dignified manner.
The Parliament introduced a set of proposals in the draft report, prepared by rapporteur MEP Cecilia Wikström of ALDE, aiming to ensure that a new Dublin system would work in practice and on the ground. Particularly, the report introduces new relocation criteria such as links to a particular country first relocation criteria. With this new criterion, of having family members present in that country, as well as prior residence or studies in a particular EU country, asylum seekers that can prove this “genuine link” with a particular member state should be transferred to it, since this increases their chances of integration and reduces the risk of secondary movements. If an asylum seeker attempts to avoid registration, or wrongly claim a link to a particular member state, he or she would be allocated to a random member state according to the distribution key.
Towards a permanent and automatic relocation mechanism, the European Parliament proposes that asylum seekers that do not have a genuine link with a particular EU member state will be automatically assigned to an EU country which will take responsibility for them upon arrival in the EU, not necessarily the member state of entrance to the bloc, preventing member states on the borders having to shoulder a disproportionate share of the EU’s international obligations, registration and security verification upon arrival.
Furthermore, countries of first arrival must register all asylum seekers and check their fingerprints against relevant EU databases, such as the Europol Information System, as well as the likelihood of an applicant being eligible for international protection, before he or she is transferred to another EU country, as these initial checks will now be accelerated in order to avoid creating bottlenecks in “frontline” EU member states.
“Frontline” member states that fail to register applicants would see the relocation of applicants from their territory stop, facing limits on their access to EU funds and would not be able to use these funds to return applicants whose asylum claims are rejected. giving member states time to adjust to the new asylum system/
On minors protection, MEPs want to strengthen the provisions on children, ensuring that they are always interviewed in a child-friendly manner by specially trained staff. Unaccompanied minors must have a guardian appointed at the latest 24 hours after applying for asylum, that will keep being present if fingerprints are taken and also during the interview. A new guardian will be appointed if the unaccompanied minor gets transferred from one country to another, before this transfer takes place.
Applicants for international protection should have the option to register as a group of maximum 30 people upon arrival in Europe, giving them a right to be transferred to a more friendly environment.
The principle is simple: you follow the rules, you get to choose between four member states as your future country. However, should you try to move outside the system, you will be given no choice. ensuring full participation of all member states: all member states should share responsibility for asylum seekers and abide by the obligations set out in the law which has been democratically agreed.
According to the MEPs, a three-year transition period should be introduced during which member states which have historically received many asylum seekers will continue to shoulder a greater responsibility, while the systems with low experience will be introduced to welcoming asylum seekers in lower numbers, with the assistance of the European Agency for Asylum (EASO) that will help them build the necessary capacity. During these three years, member states will then automatically see their shares move towards the fair share determined by the distribution key based on GDP and population size.