Brussels, Belgium, 20 December 2023 — As political agreement is reached between the parliament and the member states on the EU Pact, the IRC warns that the agreement leaves troubling cracks in the foundations of what will become the future EU’s migration and asylum system.
While reforms to the EU's approach to asylum and migration are urgently needed, the IRC is concerned that many of the changes now agreed upon risk exacerbating rather than solving existing challenges, such as decreasing pressure on states of first entry, addressing violence at the borders, upholding the right to asylum, and creating a Common European Asylum System with clear rules and regulations.
Now that the negotiations are finalised, we are looking to EU leaders for guarantees that its implementation will safeguard rather than further erode fundamental rights and protections for people in search of safety.
Harlem Désir, IRC’s Senior Vice President for Europe, said:
“While a reform of the European asylum and migration system was long overdue, today’s political agreement on the Pact does not offer sustainable solutions for people seeking safety at the EU's borders. Europe is now at a crossroads; it can either move ahead with the policies of deterrence and exclusion which will simply drive more people onto dangerous journeys, or choose to lead by example, advancing safe pathways and safeguarding the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in a spirit of global humanitarian leadership.
“Only this week, a tragic shipwreck off the coast of Libya claimed the lives of over 60 people, serving as yet another wake-up call for Europe to scale up its routes to safety. Our team, who assisted the survivors, reported that people were in visible distress, vividly recalling that all they could hear were screams of women, children and men, as the boat was going underwater. Europe cannot afford to witness more loss of lives before committing to actions that prioritize the well-being and rights of those seeking refuge.
“Solidarity is the key to establishing a predictable system for responsibility sharing and success for EU migration reform, but the Pact still falls short on what is needed to fully address this challenge. It does, however, offer a glimmer of hope in the Union Resettlement Framework. The EU cannot afford to miss this opportunity for states to harmonise their resettlement procedures, a key step towards forging a common European approach to safe pathways.
“During the Pact negotiations, the IRC offered a number of humanitarian solutions, calling for core safeguards to be upheld in line with EU and international law, especially for children and other vulnerable people; strong and truly independent border monitoring mechanisms to prevent pushbacks and ensure those who commit human rights violations are held accountable; and safe pathways to be properly operationalised on a far more ambitious scale than current efforts. We will continue to urge EU leaders to do much better, in line with their core values and Europe’s true capacity for welcome.”