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Germany leads the work on the reform the Common European Asylum System

In Autumn 2019  Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and Vice-President Margaritis Schinas delared the one of priorities for the European Commission would be the intensive work on sufficient solutions on European migration and asylum policies.  

The new strategic document  -  new EU Pact on Asylum and Migration is expected to be launched. On 29 January 2020, the European Commission's new work programme was published. As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic pulled back the elaboration of the document on 27 May 2020, the Commission adjusted its work programme and announced the pact would be adopted in 2nd quarter of 2020.  

On the 1st of July 2020 Germany took over the six-month Presidency of the Council of the European.  Although coronavrius pandemic, followed by the challenges of economic crisis and uncertainty,  brought the extended list of urgent issues on the table,  migration and asylum reform remain to place among priority tasks for the upcoming months. Access to the asylum procedure, the protection of lives and health of migrants that face vulnerabilities and precarious conditions on reception centres are one of the divisive issue for the member states.  Referring to the protection of public health as an excuse, countries have resume fighting over the topic of mandatory relocation. On 4 June, five Mediterranean countries (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain) highlighted the urgent need of a “mandatory relocation mechanism entailing the distribution among all Member States of all those who entered the territory”. The objection was expressed by Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia.  The ministers of the above mentioned states sent a joint letter to the European Commission (EC) Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson concerning the Migration and Asylum Pact strongly opposing  the compulsory relocation in any form. Obtaining the EU presidency, Germany took the leading role in mediating and elaborating sufficient solutions.  

On 7 July, during the informal video conference  interior ministers discussed  the expansion of police cooperation and sea rescue and exchanged views on reforms of the EU asylum system. Commenting the meeting, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) expressed “justified confidence” that a deal can be found and highlighted, that for the first time, almost all member states declared willingness to “show solidarity in different ways”regarding the relocation and distribution of forced migrants among the block. According to  EURACTIV, about a dozen member states agreed to participate in further relocations, other states reported that they would enhance their input on activities against smuggling and human trafficking across the Mediterranean.

However, further proposals for common solutions can be very unsettling. Previously, Berlin suggested that the European Commission should follow the direction of strengthening the block security capabilities, expending Frontex and outsourcing asylum procedures beyond the external borders. Such approach is widely criticized among the human rights activists and organizations as asylum seekers  would be deprived of their rights to an asylum procedure and protection.

A New Pact on Migration and Asylum and accompanying legal proposals (articles 78 and 79 tfeu) / before 2020-04,
Germany’s Seehofer cautiously optimistic on EU asylum reform, [08.07.2020].