Brussels, Belgium, 28 September 2023 — Three years ago this week - on 23 September 2020 - the European Commission presented the EU Pact, intended to break the political deadlock on reforming the EU’s asylum and migration system, and establish a fair system for states to share responsibility for new arrivals at EU borders.
As EU states meet today to discuss the Crisis Regulation, which regulates what happens if there is a ‘crisis’ at the EU’s external border, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that elements of the Pact “could set EU asylum and migration policy firmly on the wrong track for years to come,” and are unlikely to prevent inhumane and chaotic situations as recently witnessed on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The IRC is calling for EU leaders to seize this opportunity to create a truly humane, sustainable and predictable EU asylum system which would benefit everyone - people seeking safety, states hosting the majority of the world’s refugees, and EU states demanding an orderly and well-managed approach to new arrivals.
Harlem Désir, IRC Senior Vice President, Europe, says:
“The situation in Lampedusa is a stark demonstration of why a humane, sustainable and orderly EU asylum system is so desperately needed. Yet, parts of the EU Pact proposals threaten to entrench some of the greatest shortcomings of the current system, and set EU asylum and migration policy firmly on the wrong track for years to come.
"As negotiations on the Pact enter the final stages, the IRC is calling for EU leaders to ensure that the Pact is rooted in responsibility-sharing, with a comprehensive system in place to ensure all member states either relocate new arrivals across the EU from their moment of arrival - or alternatively, contribute support and resources to ensure humane reception. When a crisis occurs there needs to be more solidarity, not a lowering of standards. Rather than striking deals with non-EU countries designed to stop people reaching Europe without proper guaranties to respect human rights, the EU must establish truly independent bodies empowered to monitor and prevent human rights violations at borders. Member states and the European Parliament must also ensure that children and families are excluded from detention. The reality is that, in the absence of safe routes, most refugees have no option to access protection but to risk their lives on dangerous journeys. The EU must live up to its promises to expand safe pathways, and the adoption of the EU Pact must put an end to the mounting death toll at its borders.”