by Elly Schlein, MEP of “Possible”, rapporteur for the reform of the Dublin Regulation for Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
A reform proposal that represents a real Copernican revolution for the asylum system in Europe. After more than a year and a half of negotiations, with 21 meetings of shadow rapporteurs and several technical meetings, last 16th November the European Parliament approved, in plenary session, the mandate to open negotiations with the Council on the reform of Dublin. A vote by a very large majority (390 votes in favor, 175 against and 44 abstentions) ranging from the Socialists and Democrats, the Greens and the Gue, to the Popular and the Liberals, and it is a strong signal of the Parliament to governments and European citizens: at least one of the three institutions of the Union wants a change in European asylum policies, in the name of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibilities.
The cancellation of the criterion of the first country of entry is certainly the greatest achievement of the reform proposal launched by Parliament, because it finally overcomes the hypocrisy of the current system, which attributes most of the responsibilities of reception on the frontier countries of the Union like Italy, and replaces it with a permanent and automatic relocation mechanism in which all Member States participate. The scope of liability criteria has been expanded, enhancing the applicant’s significant links with other member states (previous stays, diplomas and qualifications) with a view to facilitating social inclusion. And, if none of these criteria of liability were to be applied, the relocation mechanism would automatically be triggered, giving the applicant a certain margin of choice between four Member States, which at the time of his application are furthest from reaching their quota. To activate the relocation mechanism it will not be necessary for a country to reach a certain threshold of requests, as proposed by the Commission, precisely because of the fact that the reform draws a centralized asylum system at European level. From this point of view, the costs of reception until the determination of the responsible Member State would in fact be borne by the Union budget.
Equally important, also in light of the low collaboration on the part of some member countries, is that according to the approved text, states can not escape their obligations on relocation, on pain of consequences on the structural funds. In this way, it is established a principle that we consider fundamental: we can not join the Union only for the benefits that this entails, but we must also share the responsibilities that derive from it.
In addition to the relocation mechanism, the reform provides several other innovative measures, such as a new accelerated family reunification procedure, for which sufficient information on the presence of a family member in another Member State will be enough for rapid relocation. This is to prevent the recurrence of situations like the one that last year saw hundreds of children sleeping in front of the Como railway station to try to cross the border. They could have sought asylum in Italy, but many of them did not want to do so in order not to get caught up in a system that provides for up to two years for a simple reunification. We have also succeeded in obtaining a partial extension of the notion of family, which now includes brothers, dependent adult children, and the possibility of reuniting with a family member who legally stays in another Member State.
The new text of the regulation approved by the European Parliament also provides for the possibility of sponsorship, through which organizations that meet certain requirements established at national level can take charge of an asylum seeker until his application is examined.
The procedural guarantees and disclosure requirements for applicants were also significantly strengthened, in particular the safeguards for unaccompanied minors, including the appointment of a guardian within twenty-four hours, and the need for a multi-disciplinary assessment of the best interests of minor children before any decision concerning him. Finally, it is fundamental the cancellation of the mandatory checks of inadmissibility proposed by the Commission, which would have obliged the first countries of entry to carry out systematic checks on the inadmissibility of all applicants, based on the concepts of safe third country and first country of asylum, risking dangerous discrimination on the basis of nationality and weighing further on the first countries of arrival.
In the approved text there are also things that do not convince us fully, such as the transitional period which, for the first three years, would act on the distribution of Member State quotas, making a gradual phase-in for the States that have so far received less, given that the permanent and automatic mechanism would however come into operation immediately. And also the possibility, although limited to completely marginal cases (and with the exclusion of minors, family reunification and vulnerable persons), which some applicants who had provided only irrelevant elements for asylum in the application see it examined in the first country of arrival. However, the analysis remains absolutely positive. With the reform proposal approved, Parliament brings to the negotiating table with the Council a text that openly challenges national selfishness.
We have reached a very important goal, the result of years of work and close collaboration with experts and associations who have made a fundamental contribution in rewriting the Regulation. But the game is not over. We are going to have a tough negotiation with the Council, before which we will present ourselves with a strong position that shows that Parliament will not accept to leave things as they are.
© European Union 2017 Source : EP