Mandate for re-negotiating Dublin rules endorsed
Member States refusing to accept relocation would face limits on their access to EU funds
Maria Koleva, Brussels
17 November, 2017Discarding the criteria of the first country of entry, MEPs endorsed on 16 November at their plenary session in Strasbourg the EP mandate to enter into negotiations with national governments on the Dublin asylum revamping. The amended rules should ensure that asylum seekers are fairly shared across the EU, regardless which Member State was firstly approached, as the current regulation stipulates, which is apparently responsible for the existing chaos in the system.“We have a position that will change the reality out there, so colleagues today I stand before you asking for your confidence to start negotiations,” Swedish ALDE MEP Cecilia Wikstrsom, who steered the report, stated before the vote. “I'm astonished that 28 ministers in Council have not managed to come up with one common position, when they do so I'm standing here ready inviting them in all friendship and honesty to start the negotiations in trilogues and I look forward to that,” she asserted after her report was backed. She also pointed out that there is nothing in the treaties that would direct the Council to take a unanimous decision, saying that “the countries that do not want to participate in a fair sharing of responsibilities could simply be overruled by a majority vote.”The new measures will allow asylum seekers that have a “genuine link” with a particular Member State to be transferred to it, since this increases their chances of integration and reduces the risk of secondary movements. Having family members present in that country, as well as prior residence or studies in a particular EU country is considered as such link, MEPs said. Member States refusing to accept relocation of applicants to their territory would face limits on their access to EU funds and would not be able to use these funds to return applicants whose asylum claims are rejected.The new rules also envisage establishing of permanent and automatic relocation mechanism. It means that asylum seekers that do not have a genuine link with a particular Member State will automatically be assigned to an EU country, which will take responsibility for them upon arrival in the EU according to a “distribution key”. According to the adopted text, this country will be responsible for processing the asylum application and the country of first arrival will no longer be automatically responsible, and there will be no thresholds before the relocation mechanism sets in, as proposed by the European Commission. Thus, lawmakers want to prevent Member States on the borders having to shoulder a disproportionate share of the EU’s international obligations.MEPs urged that countries of first arrival must register all asylum seekers and check their fingerprints against relevant EU databases, as well as the likelihood of an applicant being eligible for international protection, before being transferred to another EU country. These initial checks will be much faster than the current admissibility checks in order not to create bottlenecks in “frontline” countries. Asylum seekers will be able to choose among the four countries which at that given moment have received the fewest asylum seekers based on the distribution key. Putting special focus on children, lawmakers insist minors to be interviewed always in a child-friendly manner by specially trained staff. Unaccompanied minors must have a guardian appointed 24 hours after applying for asylum, at the latest.