19 December 2023
A discussion document circulated by the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU prior this week's crunch trilogues on new migration and asylum legislation sets out the Council's red lines: families with children should not automatically be excluded from border procedures, and thus may be detained; free legal advice should not be provided to asylum applicants; and siblings should not be considered as family members. The Council also wants to maintain "a menu of derogations as broad as possible."
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The document (pdf), circulated on Sunday, outlines "four political elements, that are of the utmost importance and key to reach a deal in principle at the trilogues of 18 and 19 December."
Those elements are (all emphasis added):
Yesterday, over 50 human rights organisations sent a letter to the Council calling for a rejection of the Pact:
"The EU Pact on Migration and Asylum will mirror the failed approaches of the past and worsen their consequences. There is currently a major risk that the Pact results in an ill-functioning, costly, and cruel system that falls apart on implementation and leaves critical issues unaddressed.
If adopted in its current format, it will normalise the arbitrary use of immigration detention, including for children and families, increase racial profiling, use “crisis” procedures to enable pushbacks, and return individuals to so called “safe third countries” where they are at risk of violence, torture, and arbitrary imprisonment."
This follows a previous call two weeks ago. Trilogue negotiations are ongoing.
Negotiations are close to an end on the new laws that make up the EU's Pact on Migration and Asylum, and the Council - which has consistently favoured rules that will downgrade human rights protections - appears to have largely got its way, according a document circulated by the Spanish Council Presidency yesterday. Amongst other things, the document openly admits that the Council is planning to sideline Parliament's concerns over "potential discrimination based on race."
The Spanish Council Presidency wants the EU to start designing legislation for a "European return decision," to ensure harmonised deportations procedures and practices across the bloc, and increase the number of third-country nationals removed from EU territory.
The European Commission wants to agree “new anti-smuggling operational partnerships” with Tunisia and Egypt before the end of the year, despite longstanding reports of abuse against migrants and refugees in Egypt and recent racist violence endorsed by the Tunisian state. Material and financial support is already being stepped up to the two North African countries, along with support for Libya.
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