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New Pact on Migration and Asylum: Questions and Answers

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op woensdag 23 september 2020.

General questions

What exactly does the Pact contain?

The Pact sets out the Commission's new approach to migration, addresses border management and ensures more coherence to integrate the internal and external dimensions of migration policies. It explains how different legislative and non-legislative instruments fit together, and outlines what measures the Commission is taking today and what should come later - more detail on that in the Roadmap.

The Commission is today putting forward a Communication and a package of 9 instruments:

 

Title

Type

Description

A new Screening Regulation

 

Legislative

Regulation establishing new screening procedure [see specific Q&A]

An amended proposal revising the Asylum Procedures Regulation

 

Legislative

Amendments to the Commission's 2016 proposal, notably introducing the new border procedures, addressing subsequent applications and appeal procedures [see specific Q&A]

An amended proposal revising the Eurodac Regulation

 

Legislative

Targeted amendments to the Commission's 2016 proposal to fix loopholes , transforming Eurodac into an asylum and migration database

A new Asylum and Migration Management Regulation

 

Legislative

New regulation establishing a common framework for EU management, a mechanism for solidarity, and criteria for examining asylum applications

A new Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation

 

Legislative

Proposal for a Regulation setting up a solidarity mechanism, specific derogations in cases of force majeure and an immediate protection status for crisis and force majeure situations

A new Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint

 

Recommendation

Recommendation setting up an EU framework to anticipate and address crisis situations

A new Recommendation on Resettlement and complementary pathways

 

Recommendation

Formalises existing ad hoc resettlement scheme, continuing beyond 2021 and addresses complementary pathways to protection

A new Recommendation on Search and Rescue operations by private vessels

 

Recommendation

Addresses the use of private vessels for search and rescue, to ensure safety of navigation and coordination between State and private vessels

New Guidance on the Facilitators Directive

 

Guidance

Clarifications on non-penalisation of humanitarian activities

An evidence document detailing the data and experience that underpin the legislative initiatives proposed under the Pact accompanies these proposals.

The asylum and return reforms proposed by the Commission in 2016 and 2018 and on many of which the co-legislators have already found political agreement but did not conclude negotiations are also part of the Pact:

  • The EU Asylum Agency Regulation
  • The Reception Conditions Directive
  • The Qualification Directive
  • The Union Resettlement Framework
  • The Return Directive

The Communication sets out a way forward to conclude these negotiations, with a view to making procedures more efficient and giving stronger guarantees to people affected (more detail in a question below [see specific Q&A]. One key element of the 2016 reform is now being withdrawn by Commission: the Dublin Regulation, as announced by President von der Leyen in her first State of the Union address. And it is replaced by the new elements of the Pact new Asylum and Migration Management Regulation altogether put in place a much more effective and comprehensive governance system that ensures that solidarity is effective in practice and that the challenges of migration are addressed comprehensively - be it outside or inside our Union .

What elements of the Pact are still to come?

Today's package includes a Roadmap which sets out a series of initiatives that will be presented in the months to come to complete the overall architecture. These include:

  • An Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion
  • A Strategy on the future of Schengen
  • A Strategy on voluntary returns and reintegration
  • An operational strategy on returns
  • An EU Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling
  • A Skills and Talent package

What consultations were undertaken in designing the New Pact? How has the impact of the new proposals been measured?

An evidence document accompanying the Pact presents the data and experience underpinning the legislative initiatives proposed. It is based on publicly available EU data and statistics from Eurostat on migration and asylum; data from the Agencies Frontex and EASO; as well as eu-LISA for information related to IT systems. It also builds on research and support provided by the Knowledge Centre for Migration and Demography of the Joint Research Centre.

The proposals take into account the experience gathered by the Commission and EU agencies about the asylum and migration situation on the ground and on extensive reporting, notably via the regular progress reports on migration.

The legislative proposals also build on the outcome of a wide consultation with Member States, the European Parliament, civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders.

The preparation of the Commission's initiatives under the New Pact has also benefitted from the feedback received following the publication of the Roadmap on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The Roadmap was available for stakeholders' and citizens comments on the Commission's ‘Have your say' portal between 30 July and 27 August 2020.

Clearer responsibilities through better procedures

Why do we need to make asylum and migration management procedures faster and integrated?

Inefficient procedures can cause hardship and dysfunction in the European asylum and migration management system, keeping people in uncertain situations for long periods. During this time, the state is funding reception conditions which are both very basic and expensive over time.

Lack of integration between procedures can mean that authorities lose track of someone between a negative asylum decision and a return procedure. It also means that those newly recognised as refugees can face excessive hardship between leaving the reception system for asylum seekers and entering the economic and social life of their host Member State.

Improving procedures will require legal changes, planning and management improvements in administrations, and some financial investment. However, it is key to humane and effective management of asylum and migration; certainty and protection for migrants and refugees; efficient operation of the system without needless delays and reception spending; and credible application of all migration rules.

How does the New Pact improve asylum and migration management procedures?

  • 1) 
    New, integrated procedures are created starting at the border. These procedures, comprising pre-entry screening, an asylum procedure and where applicable a swift return procedure, aim to speed up decision-making. In simple cases where someone has no right to stay, the person can be returned after a short process. These procedures are accompanied by specific monitoring and legal safeguards to ensure a full assessment of each individual person.
  • 2) 
    The Pact aims to move forward and conclude negotiations on the Commission's 2016 proposals to reform the asylum system [see specific Q&A]. These reforms will make legal changes improving the efficiency of procedures and strengthening safeguards for the people concerned.
  • 3) 
    The common EU returns system aims to dramatically improve returns procedures, strengthen return governance structures, including in Frontex, and combine better the external and internal aspects of return policy. It will integrate and support return sponsorship solidarity measures. A prerequisite for its good functioning is the existence of close links with third countries.
  • 4) 
    Proper implementation of procedures will be strengthened through support from EU agencies. This will include the new EU Agency for Asylum to be created under the 2016 reform, which will provide support but also monitoring of asylum systems. The Fundamental Rights Agency and Frontex will also have this role included in their remits. In addition, IT systems (especially Eurodac) will be modernised to support integrated procedures.
  • 5) 
    The new governance system created by the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation (AMR) will encourage Member States to integrate procedures at national level. In a structured process, Member States will prepare and present national strategies addressing all aspects of migration management [see specific Q&A].

Does the New Pact on Migration and Asylum replace the reform of the Common European Asylum System proposed in 2016?

The New Pact builds on the 2016 reform by adding additional elements to ensure a balanced, common framework bringing together all aspects of asylum and migration policy.

The Commission is withdrawing only one of its 2016 proposals, the Dublin Regulation. The Commission is proposing amendments to its 2016 proposal for an Asylum Procedure Regulation and to the recast Eurodac Regulation. For Eurodac, the amended proposal builds on the provisional agreement reached by co-legislators that the Commission supports.

The Commission maintains its proposals and supports the provisional political agreements already reached on the Qualification Regulation, the Reception Conditions Directive, the Union Resettlement Framework Regulation and the EU Agency for Asylum Regulation. These should be adopted as soon as possible. The negotiations on the recast Return Directive should also be swiftly concluded.

For more information: MEMO: Building on the progress made since 2016 - New Pact on Migration and Asylum

How will the new screening work?

The new Screening Regulation will ensure fast identification of the correct procedure applicable to a person entering the EU without fulfilling the entry conditions.

It will also apply to:

  • Persons who, while not fulfilling the conditions for entry into the EU, request international protection during border checks.
  • Persons brought ashore in search and rescue operations at sea.
  • Persons apprehended within the territory if they have eluded controls at the external borders in the first place.

The screening will include identification, health and security checks, fingerprinting and registration in the Eurodac database. It should be carried out near the external borders over a maximum period of 5 days. At the end of the screening, all people concerned will be directed to the relevant procedure: asylum or return, at the border or not.

Faster identification of the right procedure will help to manage the applications of people in need of protection and vulnerable people requiring special assistance, including when many people arrive at the same time.

How will the screening be monitored? What support will Member States be given to carry out the screening?

The screening proposal provides for independent monitoring to ensure that fundamental rights are complied with throughout.

  • 1) 
    Member States are required to set up an independent monitoring mechanism. The Fundamental Rights Agency will propose guidelines for this. At the request of the Member States, the Agency may also provide more specific guidelines on methodology and training.

This new mechanism should also monitor compliance with the principle of non-refoulement as well as with the national rules on detention where they are applied during the screening.

Such independent monitoring will be part of the governance and monitoring of the migratory situation provided for in the new AMR. The annual Migration Management Report to be published by the Commission will evaluate results and propose improvements where appropriate.

  • 2) 
    A European quality control system related to the management of external borders and migration, in particular the Schengen evaluation mechanism and Frontex vulnerability assessments, will contribute to this process.
  • 3) 
    The new European Union Agency for Asylum will also monitor asylum systems.
  • 4) 
    The Commission will also carry out a more systematic monitoring of both existing and new rules. It will launch infringement procedures where necessary.

Who does the border asylum procedure apply to?

Following the screening, if a person applies for asylum, their case will be examined under the border procedure if they are a national of countries with low recognition rates for international protection, if their claim is fraudulent or abusive or if they pose a threat to national security.

For others, the normal asylum procedure will apply.

The border procedure will not apply to unaccompanied children and families with children under the age of 12. For vulnerable people, the border procedure would only apply after an individual assessment where their specific needs can be taken into account. Those who do not apply for international protection following the screening will be channelled into return procedures.

How long do the asylum and return border procedures last?

The deadline for examining claims under the asylum border procedure should not exceed 12 weeks, including a single appeal. Applications for international protection should be examined as quickly as possible while guaranteeing a complete and fair examination of the claims.

The duration of the return border procedure is also limited to 12 weeks. The clock starts when the court decides that the person concerned has been issued with a return order and is no longer allowed to remain in the EU, i.e. when a request by the applicant to be granted the right to remain has been denied by a court. This period is additional to the one set for the asylum border procedure.

The new rules specify that a return order must be issued simultaneously with a negative asylum decision, speeding up existing practices. In crisis times, both the asylum and return border procedure may be extended by an additional 8 weeks each. The new rules specify that a return order must be issued simultaneously with a negative asylum decision, speeding up existing practices.

How does the New Pact on Migration and Asylum guarantee individual assessment of claims and the rights of asylum applicants?

The law will guarantee that everyone will benefit from an individual assessment of their asylum claim and essential guarantees will be respected in every asylum procedure, including the border procedure. This will protect effective access to the asylum procedure, the right to liberty, the rights of the child as well as the right to an effective remedy.

How will the New Pact ensure protection of vulnerable groups and children?

The new rules will ensure that the best interest of the child are the primary consideration in decision-making. During the screening, an individual assessment will take into account their specific needs.

Families with children under 12 and unaccompanied children will be exempt from border procedures. Representatives for unaccompanied minors should be appointed quickly and have access to sufficient resources. Tailored processes should reflect the particular needs of children at every stage. The role of the European Network on Guardianship should be strengthened.

Family reunification will be strengthened by enlarging the definition of family members to include siblings and families formed in transit countries.

Under the solidarity mechanism established by the AMR, relocation of unaccompanied children will always be given priority and Member States will receive a higher financial contribution from the EU budget - which has for years already and will continue to support relocation and resettlement with lump sums. In specific circumstances, the solidarity pool (see specific Q&A below) established for search and rescue operations may be used for relocation of vulnerable persons.

Will applicants be detained under the asylum and return border procedures?

The purpose of the asylum border procedure is to allow authorities to examine a claim without granting entry to the territory. In these circumstances, Member States may apply detention.

While the border procedure for the examination of an application can be applied without recourse to detention, Member States should nevertheless be able to apply the grounds for detention during the border procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Reception Conditions Directive in order to decide on the applicant's right to enter the territory. If the relevant conditions and guarantees cannot be provided for at any stage of the procedure, Member States shall cease to apply the border procedure.

Where an applicant who was detained during the asylum border procedure no longer has the right to remain, Member States should be able to continue applying detention for the purpose of the return procedure, respecting the guarantees provided for in the Return Directive.

Where a person who was not detained during the asylum border procedure is subject to a return border procedure, they can be detained in line with the rules and guarantees provided for in the Return Directive.

Is there a right to appeal?

There will be effective and fair time limits to lodge appeals, adapted depending on the procedure.

For a border procedure, Member States will determine the deadlines both for the administrative and the appeal phase, in such a way as to ensure that the whole procedure, including a single appeal, is completed within the maximum period of 12 weeks.

Under the new amendments to the Asylum Procedure Regulation, the negative asylum decision and a return decision are to be issued either in the same act or, if in separate acts, at the same time. They are then subject to an appeal together before the same court. In the context of a border procedure, the appeal procedure is limited to one judicial level.

How will the New Pact improve the rules on responsibility for asylum claims and address unauthorised movements within the EU?

The new rules aim to take better account of people's legitimate interests and meaningful links they have with the Member State examining their claim. At the same time, they strengthen rules that prevent unauthorised movements within the EU.

Family reunification during the asylum procedure will be facilitated, and family definition will be enlarged to also reunite siblings and new families formed in transit. A new criterion will mean a Member State that delivered a diploma to a person is responsible for their asylum claim.

Recognised refugees will enjoy stronger rights to help their integration into European society. They would in particular have the right to acquire the EU long-term resident status after 3 years instead of 5 through the targeted amendment to the Directive on long-term residents, and as a consequence be able to live and work in another Member State.

There will be stronger incentives to stay in the responsible Member State during the asylum process. Access to material reception conditions (e.g. housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education for minors) will be limited to the Member State where the applicant is present, unless the Member State fails to ensure a standard of living in accordance with Union law, including the EU Charter, and international obligations.

Moreover, the Eurodac database will be better able to monitor movements of people who entered and are illegally staying in the EU and moved from one Member State to another, and indicate the shift of responsibility between Member States, including in cases of relocation.

How are unfounded or subsequent applications addressed?

The right to seek asylum is a fundamental right as defined by both international and EU law. Asylum applicants have the right to have their application assessed in a fair, transparent and effective way. All claims must be examined on their merits and take into account the individual circumstances of the applicant's case.

The purpose of the end-to-end asylum and return border procedure is to quickly assess asylum requests with little prospect of success or asylum requests made at the external border by applicants coming from non-EU countries with low recognition rates. Applicants with claims examined under the border procedure will only avail of one right to appeal. Stricter rules will also be introduced to discourage unfounded or subsequent applications with the sole aim of preventing removal.

More efficient procedures will benefit both applicants and the asylum system more generally. Quick and fair decision-making will alleviate situations of protracted uncertainty for the applicant as well as foster confidence and contribute to a better functioning EU migration management system.

What are the changes to the Eurodac database?

The Eurodac Regulation proposal is amended to better support the data needs of the new framework for EU asylum and migration management. The changes include counting individual applicants rather than applications. This will help apply new provisions on shifting responsibility within the EU, prevent unauthorised movements to other Member States, facilitate relocation, and ensure better monitoring of returnees. It will also track support for voluntary departure and reintegration. The new Eurodac would be fully interoperable with the border management databases, as part of an all-encompassing and integrated migration and border management system.

For how long is a Member State responsible for an asylum claim after irregular entry and what are the criteria for determining responsibility? Under what circumstances will another Member State take responsibility?

There are a 5 criteria which are applied in order:

  • the best interests of the child,
  • the Member State responsible is one where a family member is granted international protection or is still an applicant,
  • failing that, the Member State that issued a residence document or a visa
  • the Member State where an educational institution issued a diploma or qualification,
  • only if none of these criteria apply, the Member State of irregular entry shall be responsible for examining the application, provided that the application is registered within three years of the irregular entry.

Where responsibility is established according to these criteria, it stays with that Member State until the rules on ‘shift' or ‘cessation' of responsibility apply, meaning where the person concerned has left the territory of the Member States in compliance with a rejection or return decision, or another Member State has applied the discretionary clause or failed to carry out the transfer to the responsible Member State in time.

Existing rules on responsibility shifting if a transfer to the responsible Member State is not able to be carried out within 18 months will be deleted.

A new solidarity mechanism

How will the solidarity mechanism introduced by the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation work?

The Pact includes new forms of mutual support between Member States, adapted to different situations.

The New Pact recognises that no Member State should shoulder a disproportionate responsibility and that all Member States should constantly contribute to solidarity. This will feed into EU and national strategies and planning [see specific Q&A].

Possibilities for solidarity through relocation are widened and complemented by ‘return sponsorship' schemes [see specific Q&A], under which a Member State commits to support returns from another one and, if the efforts are not successful, to transfer the persons concerned. Under specific circumstances, solidarity can include other contributions [see specific Q&A], such as contributions to capacity building for asylum, reception or return; or engagement with relevant non-EU countries of origin or transit.

Member States may contribute voluntarily to solidarity at any time, under the coordination of the Commission. Under this voluntary framework, the scope of relocation is at the discretion of the Member States.

Member States will also receive a financial contribution from the EU budget for relocation. Where Member States undertake relocation or return sponsorship on a voluntary basis, the relocations concerned may be deducted from the number of relocations that a Member State would normally be obliged to undertake in situations of pressure.

How will the solidarity mechanism work in situations of pressure or risk of pressure on national migration management systems?

A solidarity mechanism is proposed for situations of pressure or risk of pressure

Stage 1 - trigger: On its own initiative, or at the request of a Member State, the Commission would assess, taking all available information into account, whether the system of the Member State in question is under pressure or risk of pressure and if confirmed, trigger the solidarity mechanism.

Stage 2 - assessment of needs: Where the assessment concludes that a Member State's national migration management system is under pressure or risk of pressure, the Commission will identify the overall needs of the Member State and set out in a report the measures needed to address the situation, after close consultation with that Member State. Such measures would include relocation and return sponsorships [see specific Q&A], as well as other measures [see specific Q&A] identified in consultation with the Member State in question and aimed at providing operational support, strengthening its capacity or engaging with relevant non-EU countries.

Stage 3 - response: All other Member States would submit solidarity response plans indicating whether they wish to fulfil their obligations through relocation, return sponsorships, or a combination of both. Member States contribute through relocation and/ or return sponsorship, as these two forms of solidarity help alleviate the challenges caused by the concentration of arrivals in one Member State. A contributing Member State may also indicate that instead of relocation and/or return sponsorships, its contribution would be made up of other measures (capacity building, operational support, engagement with relevant non-EU countries). Any such measures must be aligned with the needs identified in the Commission's report.

Possible stage 3bis - correction: If, once all responses are received, there is a shortfall in relocation/return sponsorship, Member States will first be asked to revise their response choice in a Solidarity Forum. If, following this, there is still a shortfall of more than 30% of the necessary number of relocations or return sponsorships, a ‘critical mass correction mechanism' will kick in [see specific Q&A].

This would result in an adjustment to the contributions of those Member States who chose to contribute through “other measures”. They would have to take responsibility for 50% of their allocation of relocations/ return sponsorships. There would be a corresponding reduction in the proportion of the “other measures” covered by that Member State.

Even were this correction mechanism to apply, no Member State would be obliged to contribute through relocations, as it could choose to sponsor returns instead.

A Member State that can show that over the previous 5 years, it has been responsible for more than twice the EU per capita average of asylum applications, can request a deduction of 10% of its ‘fair share', to be shared out proportionately among the other Member States.

Stage 4 - legal confirmation: Two weeks after receiving the Solidarity Response Plans from the Member States, the Commission will take a decision setting out what each Member State will do to support the Member State whose system is under pressure. The Commission's decision will in so far as possible be in line with the preferences indicated by Member States, but the critical mass correction mechanism (see above) will be applied where the rules so require. This renders the shares legally binding, but the choice between relocation and return sponsorship remains with the Member States.

What is return sponsorship?

Return sponsorship is a new form of solidarity contribution that Member States can use to assist each other.

Return sponsorship will form part of the common EU system of returns, including operational support provided through the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the application of the coordination mechanism to promote effective cooperation with third countries in the area of return and readmission.

Under return sponsorship, a Member State commits to returning irregular migrants with no right to stay on behalf of another Member State, doing this directly from the territory of the beneficiary Member State.

The sponsoring Member State would provide, for instance, return counselling to irregular migrants for the purpose of voluntary return, offer financial and practical support to assist their voluntary return and reintegration or lead policy dialogue with non-EU countries on behalf of another Member State to facilitate identification and readmission. This would be done while the irregular migrant is still on the territory of the beneficiary Member State benefitting from such support.

In their solidarity response plans, Member States will be able to choose which nationalities they wish to sponsor the return of.

If these persons have not returned within 8 months (or 4 months in a situation of crisis), they will be transferred to the territory of the sponsoring Member State to finish the return procedure from there.

What falls under “other measures”?

Solidarity contributions can consist of measures aimed at strengthening the capacity of a specific Member State in the field of asylum, reception or return. Examples of such support include assistance with putting in place enhanced reception capacity (e.g. infrastructure), financial or other assistance for the infrastructure and facilities necessary to better enforce returns, as well as material or means of transport for return operations.

Contributions can also include measures intended to support a specific Member State on external aspects of migration management, for instance through engagement with non-EU countries of origin or transit or financing directed at managing the asylum and migration situation in a non-EU country from where arrivals are taking place.

Where the Commission considers that these measures respond to the needs identified in its report, these contributions will be specified in the implementing act.

How does the critical mass correction mechanism work?

In situations of solidarity following search and rescue operations or in situations of pressure or risk of pressure on a Member State's system, Member States will be able to make solidarity contributions aimed at supporting the beneficiary Member State in the field of asylum, reception or return or through measures in non-EU countries aiming at dealing with people arriving.

Where because of the choice of the Member States to contribute with capacity building measures, the pool for relocation falls at least 30% short of the needs identified by the Commission, the Commission can decide that each Member State concerned must contribute also to the other forms of solidarity - and not only to capacity building. That contribution to relocation is calculated as half of what would be the relevant Member State's share if the usual distribution key were applied. It has the option of making the contribution through return sponsorship rather than relocation. The other half of its 'fair' share remains in the form of capacity building.

How will the solidarity mechanism work where there is a risk of pressure on national migration management systems?

The compulsory solidarity mechanism outlined above also applies to situations where a national migration management system is at risk of pressure.

For situations of risk of pressure, it will be possible to use the pool established in the solidarity mechanism for search and rescue cases. Where the system of a coastal Member State risks coming under pressure, its solidarity pool [see specific Q&A] may be used to relocate persons quickly until the decision on solidarity for pressure is adopted.

The pools assigned for relocation from other coastal Member States may also be used for this purpose as long as this does not jeopardise the functioning of their pool.

How is pressure or risk of pressure defined and assessed?

The mechanism is intended to be triggered when the asylum and return capacities of a Member State are no longer able or risk not being able to cope with the number of migrants on the territory. There will be no quantitative threshold for defining this, but instead a holistic assessment by the Commission based on all the information at its disposal, including for example the number of asylum applications, search and rescue cases, irregular border crossings and returns. Broader issues such as the geopolitical situation of the Member State in question and the cooperation with relevant non-EU countries of origin and transit will also be taken into account.

How does the solidarity mechanism work following search and rescue operations?

The Pact recognises the specificity of search and rescue at sea - which is a legal obligation. While search and rescue and disembarkation are the responsibility of coastal states, migration management is a responsibility of the EU as a whole.

A solidarity mechanism will build on voluntary contributions by Member States, but these may become compulsory if a voluntary approach proves insufficient.

The Commission will publish every year a migration management report setting out the needs relating to anticipated disembarkations from search and rescue operations for the coming year. The Commission will invite Member States to contribute to these needs and set up a “solidarity pool” based on these contributions. Unlike in the principal solidarity mechanism, only pledges of relocation and other measures will asked for.

Where the contributions are sufficient to immediately alleviate the challenges faced by the coastal Member State, these will be set in an implementing act.

Where, however, as a whole, the indications by Member States fall short of the needs identified, the Commission will first convene a Solidarity Forum to ask Member States to revise their pledges upward. If pledges still fall 30% short of the needs identified, the critical mass correction mechanism will kick in, as per the principal solidarity mechanism. However, even though only relocation contributions were asked for at the start, if the correction mechanism leads to an obligation, Member States will be able to opt for return sponsorship instead.

Throughout the year, as disembarkations take place, and where the coastal Member State so requests, the Commission, with the assistance of the EU Agencies, will draw from the pool to facilitate the relocation of such persons or where relevant their return.

Where the Commission's yearly report identifies a number of vulnerable applicants in need of relocation - regardless of where they have crossed the border - the pool may also be set up to facilitate their relocation.

Where the solidarity pools risk being insufficient due to an increasing number of disembarkations, the Commission will amend the implementing act, setting out additional projected measures for relocation.

How does the dedicated solidarity mechanism work for vulnerable persons?

The solidarity pool for search and rescue operations can, in certain circumstances, also be used for the relocation of asylum applicants who are vulnerable.

Where the annual migration management report published by the Commission shows that a particular Member State may face challenges arising from the presence of such persons on its territory - regardless of where they have crossed the border -, the solidarity pool may be used for the purposes of relocating such persons to other Member States.

What solidarity mechanisms will apply in times of crisis?

The Pact includes specific instruments for crisis preparedness and management, described in detail below [see specific Q&A].

In such cases, the solidarity mechanism becomes broader and quicker than in situations of ‘pressure or risk of pressure'. In crisis, solidarity will also include relocation of applicants for international protection that are in the border procedure and irregular migrants. The proposal provides for a faster procedure whereby an implementing act can be adopted within 3 weeks from when the Member States concerned are considered in a situation of crisis. In the crisis solidarity mechanism, Member States may only choose between fulfilling their allocation through either relocation or return sponsorship and no correction mechanism or flexibility elements are applicable.

What is the distribution key used to calculate ‘fair shares' of contributions?

The distribution key is used to calculate each Member State's fair share of solidarity contributions. It is based on two criteria with equal weighting:

  • the size of the population, and
  • the total GDP of a Member State.

This simple distribution key is complemented by flexibility elements intended to take into account Member States past efforts and reflecting the number of asylum applications they receive.

Who is eligible for relocation under the solidarity mechanisms?

For solidarity applied to search and rescue operations, asylum applicants who are not in the border procedure can be relocated.

For situations of pressure or risk of pressure (that can also stem from search and rescue operations), the scope of relocation is broadened to include recognised refugees such as beneficiaries of international protection.

In situations of crisis, the scope is broader and also includes asylum applicants who are in the border procedure, as well as irregular migrants. Persons who are granted immediate protection under this new proposal can also be relocated, as asylum applicants.

Can contributing Member States always choose an alternative to relocation?

Solidarity should correspond to the needs of the Member State under pressure or those identified following disembarkations after search and rescue operations.

For situations of pressure or risk of pressure, Member States can choose to contribute through either relocation and/or return sponsorship. Moreover, Member States will have the possibility to contribute capacity-building measures. The latter is however subject to a critical mass correction mechanism [see specific Q&A] which will guarantee that there are always sufficient contributions to cover relocation or return sponsorship. This means that a Member State will have flexibility in making solidarity contributions, including in choosing an alternative to relocation, but that this flexibility must ensure fair and effective outcomes.

When it comes to disembarkation following search and rescue operations, in a situation where the initial indications by Member States are not sufficient, the Commission can decide that Member States will be obliged to contribute either through relocation or capacity building measures. Where the capacity building measures chosen by the Member States amount to over 30% of the relocation needs, the Commission can ensure that the Member States who have chosen such measures contribute with at least half of their share to relocation. In such instances Member States may choose to contribute with return sponsorship instead of relocation.

Can Member States choose who they relocate?

No, but every effort is made to match applicants with countries where they have better prospects of integrating.

Under both the pressure mechanism and the mechanism for search and rescue operations, applicants for international protection who are not in the border procedure will be eligible for relocation. In addition, under the pressure mechanism, those who have already been granted international protection are added to the scope.

In the procedure for relocation under the search and rescue mechanism, the Commission, with the assistance of EU Agencies, will draw up lists of persons to be relocated to the different Member States from the solidarity pool, taking into account any links those persons may have with the Member States of relocation.

In a situation of pressure or risk of pressure, the Member State benefitting from solidarity must, after performing a security check, identify the persons who are eligible for relocation, taking into account any meaningful links between individuals and the Member States of relocation. It must as quickly as possible send the relevant information to the Member State of relocation so that the latter can make its own security related assessment and, in the absence of an alert, confirm within one week that it will relocate the person concerned. The benefitting Member State must then take a transfer decision and carry out the transfer within 4 weeks.

Can Member States choose who they sponsor to return?

Member States providing return sponsorship to the benefit of another Member State will be able to indicate to the Commission the nationalities of the irregular migrants that they intend to sponsor.

What flexibility is there for Member States asked to participate in solidarity whose systems have themselves been or are under pressure?

If a Member State is benefitting from solidarity measures, it will not be obliged to contribute to solidarity measures supporting other Member States.

A Member State may also get a 10% reduction of its share where it can show that over the last 5 years, it has been responsible for more than twice the EU per capita average of asylum applications. The other Member States will make a proportionate additional contribution to compensate for that reduction.

Resilience and flexibility in cases of crisis

How will the preparedness and crisis blueprint work in practice?

The “blueprint” operates in two stages. The first stage is focused on monitoring the migratory situation in the EU, at the borders and outside the EU, while enhancing preparedness and contingency planning. The second stage is activated in times of crisis.

To ensure fast and coordinated reaction, the Commission can convene and chair the Blueprint Network gathering Member States, the relevant EU Agencies and the European External Action Service. Platforms for information exchange with specific EU countries and non-EU partners are also foreseen, to help address emerging trends or issues on specific migratory routes.

The Blueprint is a flexible tool functioning in full coherence with existing EU crisis management mechanisms such as the Integrated Policy Crisis Response or Civil Protection Mechanism. It supports those mechanisms with updated field situation awareness and early warning allowing adequate decisions whose implementation would also be monitored by the Blueprint Network. The Blueprint will also support decisions to deploy in the Member States in need more specific crisis tools in an efficient, coordinated and adequate way (e.g. hotspots, financial assistance, operational support). Finally, the Blueprint's broad crisis definition allows full support to the new mechanisms proposed by the Pact under the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation and under the crisis legislation.

How does the New Pact enhance the EU's preparedness and resilience against situation of force majeure?

Even the best-prepared and well-managed system needs to have a framework to deal with crises [see specific Q&A] or situations of force majeure [see specific Q&A]. A new instrument is needed to provide Member States with the tools to deal with challenging situations.

The proposed system distinguishes crisis situations that are caused by irregular arrivals of scale and nature that it would render a Member State's asylum, reception or return system non-functional. It would also cover situations where there is an imminent risk of such arrivals having serious consequences for the functioning of the Common European Asylum System and the migration management system of the Union as a whole. Situations of force majeure in the field of asylum and migration management are also addressed, including situations recently experienced by Member States due to the coronavirus pandemic.

How is a crisis defined in the blueprint?

For the purpose of the Migration Preparedness and Crisis Blueprint, a migration crisis is defined as any situation or development occurring inside the EU or in a non-EU country that either puts or has potential to put particular strain on any Member State's asylum, migration or border management system. This includes and goes beyond the circumstances of “situation of crisis” as defined by the proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of crisis and force majeure in the field of migration and asylum or the circumstances of “migration pressure” as defined by the proposal for a Regulation on Asylum and Migration Management. The definition of crisis in the Blueprint is broader so that the Blueprint can be activated quickly allowing the EU to move from a reactive mode to one based on readiness and anticipation.

What constitutes a force majeure situation?

Force majeure situations are situations that are unforeseeable, abnormal and outside of the Member States' control, the consequences of which could not have been avoided in spite of the exercise of all due care. Such situations of force majeure could make it impossible for Member States to respect the time limits set by the proposed Asylum Procedures Regulation and the proposed Asylum and Migration Management Regulation for registering applications for international protection or carrying out the procedures for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection.

What derogations apply in crisis or force majeure cases? Do they affect fundamental rights?

The proposed Regulation aims to ensure that specific rules are in place that can be applied to ensure effective solidarity in situations of crisis. It also allows for possible derogations from the applicable EU acquis on asylum and return. Such specific rules should be rapidly triggered in respect of any Member State(s) that experience crisis situations and of force majeure of such a magnitude as to put under significant strain even well prepared and functioning asylum systems.

The asylum and return procedures in this proposal provide Member States with the tools to respond to crisis situations that render it impossible to fulfil certain obligations under the Asylum Procedures Regulation or the Return Directive. In such instances, Member States will be allowed to request a broader application of the border procedure or have a longer deadline for registering applications for international protection.

Fundamental rights will be fully respected in times of crisis. The crisis proposal respects fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised, in particular, by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as the obligations stemming from international law, in particular the principle of non-refoulement.

The right to liberty and freedom of movement will remain protected. If detention is used in the context of the derogatory rules to the asylum and return border procedure, those rules can only be applied in a strictly regulated framework and for a limited time.

The rights of the child are protected in the crisis proposal by excluding minors from the asylum crisis management procedure, except in very limited circumstances, namely in cases where they would represent a danger to the national security or public order of the Member State concerned.

What is the new immediate protection status?

The crisis instrument proposal includes a faster procedure to grant immediate protection to groups of non-EU nationals who are facing a high degree of risk of being subject to indiscriminate violence, in exceptional situations of armed conflict, and who are unable to return to their country of origin.

This precise group of people would be determined by the Commission in an implementing act. Immediate protection status can be granted for a maximum of one year to all persons belonging to this group that claim asylum and are not a security threat or have not committed serious crimes. At the same time, Member States would suspend the processing of the asylum applications of these individuals for up to a year, avoiding risks of backlogs in processing large numbers of asylum applications. After one year, Member States need to resume this processing.

In that respect, people granted immediate protection remain applicants for international protection at the same time, but should enjoy an equal set of economic and social rights that are applicable to subsidiary protection beneficiaries.

Stepping up return, readmission and reintegration

How will the New Pact ensure more effective return of people with no right to stay in the EU to their country of origin?

Voluntary returns will remain the preferred option. To enhance their take-up among those ordered to leave the EU, the Commission will adopt by spring 2021 a new Strategy on voluntary returns and reintegration, ensuring that EU and national schemes are well-designed and coordinated and promoting also returns from third countries to other countries of origin.

The Commission will also appoint an EU Return Coordinator, supported by a network of national representatives, to coordinate national approaches to returns and ensure consistency across the EU. Under its reinforced mandate, Frontex can now provide significant support on return, linking up operational cooperation with Member States and effective readmission cooperation with third countries.

Under the new border procedure, returns will become more effective. Asylum and return procedures will be more closely linked and all rejected asylum seekers will swiftly receive a return decision. Strong judicial supervision is guaranteed by ensuring that appeals against both asylum and return decisions are referred to the same court or tribunal. The Asylum Procedure Regulation will provide tools for handling of unfounded subsequent asylum applications.

The New Pact will also establish new tools for return sponsorship [see specific Q&A].

Finally, and crucially, the New Pact will the cooperation with third countries to facilitate return and readmission, as part of deepening migration partnerships, including by mobilising other policies, tools and instruments.

How will the Pact help ensure effective cooperation with non-EU countries on return and readmission? The New Pact will foster cooperation on humane and dignified return and readmission procedures with partner countries as a key component of strengthened comprehensive partnerships. In these partnerships with third countries, the EU needs to balance its objectives on migration management with other aspects of mutual interest, in a tailor-made approach.

To do so, the EU should mobilise all its relevant policies, tools and instruments to enhance cooperation on readmission.

This will include prioritising the effective implementation of the 24 existing EU agreements and arrangements on readmission, completing ongoing readmission negotiations, and exploring options for new agreements. The focus will be on working out practical cooperative solutions to increase the number of effective returns.

As voluntary returns remain the most sustainable option, the Commission will present a Voluntary Return and Reintegration Strategy in 2021, developed with full understanding of the perspective of host countries and ensuring their active involvement. The EU will mobilise all relevant tools and policies at its disposal to incentivise cooperation on readmission including better linkages with other development initiatives and national strategies, aiming to build partner countries' capacity and ownership.

For example, under the revised Visa Code, the Commission can propose restrictive or favourable visa measures for partner countries, depending on their level of cooperation on readmission. The New Pact takes a further step going beyond these visa measures and foresees the possibility for the Commission to identify additional measures, including in other policy areas or funding instruments to incentivise and improve cooperation with third countries to facilitate return and readmission. Identifying and mobilising further policies and tools to incentivise better cooperation will require close coordination across policies, flexibility in legislative, policy and funding instruments and would need to bring together action at both EU and Member State level.

Common European asylum and migration governance

Why do we need a better governance system for asylum and migration in Europe? What does the new governance system put in place by the New Pact entail?

The current approach to managing asylum and migration in Europe is incomplete and unbalanced. It determines responsibility for assessing asylum claims and sets common standards for processing claims and granting protection, reception of applicants and returns. But many pieces are missing. It does not set a common strategy, fails to ensure common preparedness and contingency planning, and it does not remedy gaps in national asylum, reception and return systems. Implementation on the ground is also not always complete, with knock-on effects on all Member States.

These shortcomings can lead to Member States using different practices, to setting the wrong incentives for asylum applicants and undermining trust between Member States.

The New Pact develops a full system of governance for migration management, to ensure adequate preparedness, the correct implementation of EU rules and smooth cooperation between all involved. Crucially, the Pact also makes sure that the European integrated approach to migration management, addressing all internal and external aspects from borders to integration, is applied by Member States in their national strategies as well as at EU level.

This system of governance will be based on an EU strategy on Asylum and Migration Management, to be developed by the Commission. The strategy will bring together asylum and return policies, external border management and cooperation with non-EU countries. Each Member State will also draw up a national strategy.

The Commission's annual Migration Management Report - based on Member States' reporting - will set out how the migratory situation is expected to develop. The Report will steer the work on preparedness and contingency, helping to improve the EU's ability to respond rapidly to changing situations. This process will also make it easier to identify gaps that Member States or EU Agencies need to address.

The Commission and EU Agencies will enhance monitoring of migration management and of implementation of the rules on the ground. They will assess possible gaps in border management, make use of evaluation mechanisms and issue recommendations to remedy possible shortcomings. All this will help to improve implementation of common rules and restore trust. The Commission will also monitor the implementation of existing and new rules more systematically and will undertake infringement procedures where necessary.

The Pact also structures cooperation with non-EU countries on the repatriation of those with no right to stay in the EU. Every year, the Commission will assess, in a report to the Council, non-EU countries' level of cooperation on readmission. Measures to incentivise such cooperation, including more restrictive or favourable visa measures under the EU Visa Code, could follow from this assessment.

How will the New Pact close the existing gap between EU rules and implementation on the ground?

The proposed governance system helps ensure that Member States have the capacity to implement EU rules early on and receive support when facing difficulties. In their national strategies on asylum and migration management, Member States will have to explain how they implement EU rules, allowing for the identification of possible issues. Where needed, EU Agencies could boost their operational support to Member States.

In addition, the Commission's annual Migration Management Report will allow for the early identification of gaps. The report will also include the results of monitoring undertaken by the Member States in the context of screening and propose improvements where necessary and relevant, contributing to guaranteeing a uniform level of implementation.

Specific monitoring and evaluation mechanisms will also play a key role. One example is the future monitoring of the asylum systems included in the latest compromise on the proposal for a new European Union Agency for Asylum. The new mandate includes the monitoring of Member States' asylum and reception systems and allows the Commission to issue recommendations with assistance measures.

Lastly, the Commission will also monitor the implementation of existing and new rules more systematically, including where needed through infringement procedures.

Well-managed Schengen and external borders

How will you end the temporary controls at internal borders in the Schengen area of free movement?

The freedom of movement around Europe without going through border checks is not a luxury. It is an essential freedom, as well as a daily necessity for all those living in border regions. The coronavirus pandemic has shown the major disruptions resulting from uncoordinated restrictions at internal borders. To make sure all those living in Europe can enjoy the benefits of free movement, the Commission will create a dedicated Schengen Forum gathering all relevant stakeholders, including Members of the European Parliament, Interior Ministries and border police, and all other relevant EU institutions, to foster cooperation and rebuild trust. It should set the direction for necessary legislative changes aiming to preserve the European way of living and allowing all those living in Europe to move freely in an area without controls at internal borders.

The Commission will present by summer 2021 a Strategy on the future of the Schengen area of free movement, identifying a fresh way forward on the revision of the Schengen rules. The Strategy will develop solid alternatives to border controls. The Strategy will also include improvements to the Schengen evaluation mechanism, strengthening confidence in the good implementation of the Schengen rules. Another component of the European quality control system, the vulnerability assessments conducted by Frontex, will also play an important role in that regard, by assessing Member States' preparedness for challenging situations at the external borders and recommending specific actions to mitigate possible vulnerabilities.

In case Member States fail to adhere to the rules, maintain controls at internal borders beyond what is strictly necessary, or do not remedy identified deficiencies, the Commission will more systematically consider launching infringement procedures.

What will happen with the existing pending proposal to amend the Schengen Borders Code?

The proposal to amend the Schengen Borders Code does not take account the lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis, especially as regards the initial border control measures taken by Member States, and has become outdated. The Schengen Forum will discuss the reform of the Schengen rules.

How will border management become more modern and effective under the New Pact?

The EU's external borders are common borders and should be managed in common.

The Pact will ensure that national strategies on border management are fully aligned with EU goals, thanks to a multiannual strategic policy cycle for integrated border management [see specific Q&A].

The European Border and Coast Guard standing corps, scheduled for deployment from 1 January 2021, will support Member States whenever and wherever needed.

By 2023, information systems for border and migration management should become interoperable, giving border guards the information they need to know who is crossing the EU's borders, closing remaining gaps. The Entry/Exit System will replace the manual stamping of passports and register the entry and exit of non-EU nationals, playing a key role in modernising border management. It will help improve the quality and efficiency of controls and the detection of document and identity fraud.

What is the multiannual strategic policy cycle for integrated border management and how it will be implemented?

The multiannual strategic policy cycle will set a common 5-year strategy for integrated border management. It will also ensure that the relevant legal, financial and operational instruments and tools are implemented coherently, both within the EU and with external partners, avoiding any gaps.

The Commission will table a first draft in 2021, for discussion with the European Parliament and Council. Following their feedback, the Commission will set out the multiannual strategic policy for European integrated border management, which will inform national strategies on border management and return, and guide the work of Frontex, ensuring common priorities and full coherence.

A coordinated EU approach to search and rescue

What is the new Recommendation on cooperation between Member States with regards to search and rescue?

To avoid tragic incidents at sea, maintain safety of navigation and ensure effective migration management, the Recommendation sets out a framework of cooperation and information exchange between different actors in search and rescue operations carried out by private vessels as their predominant activity.

Privately operated vessels can be engaged in complex rescue efforts, concerning large numbers of people and requiring specific coordination needs between multiple Member States. It is therefore a matter of public policy, including safety, that these vessels be suitably registered and properly equipped to meet the relevant safety and health requirements and that these activities take place in a coordinated framework between all relevant actors.

The Recommendation also recalls the obligation under international law to ensure swift disembarkation in the closest port of safety.

The Commission will create the first European Contact Group of Member States on search and rescue, with the objective of reinforcing cooperation, sharing knowledge and best practices in this field. In particular, flag and coastal Member States should exchange information, on a regular and timely basis, on the vessels involved in particular rescue operations and the entities that operate or own them. The Group will ensure regular liaising with all relevant stakeholders such as the private entities owning or operating vessels that carry out Search and Rescue operations as their predominant activity, EU Agencies such as Frontex, or the International Maritime Organization.

What is the Guidance on the implementation of EU rules on definition and prevention of the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence (Facilitation Directive)?

Over the last years, non-governmental organisations and individuals providing assistance to migrants have expressed growing concerns and fear sanctions from authorities.

The Guidance clarifies that the Facilitation Directive should not be interpreted to criminalise humanitarian activity in the form of search and rescue. In particular, criminalisation of non-governmental organisations or any other actors that carry out search and rescue operations at sea for the mere fact of having carried out search and rescue while complying with the relevant legal framework, amounts to a breach of international law, and hence it cannot be permitted under EU law. The assessment of whether conduct falls within the notion of ‘humanitarian assistance' should be performed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all the relevant circumstances.

The Guidance will encourage Member States to distinguish between activities carried out for the purpose of humanitarian assistance in the form of search and rescue and activities that aim to facilitate irregular entry or transit, and to exclude the former from criminalisation, as provided by the Facilitation Directive.

A credible legal migration policy

What legislative changes will promote legal migration for employment purposes?

While Member States retain the right to determine volumes of admission for people coming from third countries to seek work, the EU's common migration policy needs to reflect the integration of the EU economy and the interdependence of Member States' labour markets.

The Pact will promote legal migration to the EU through a new Skills and Talent Package to be proposed in 2021 that will include a number of legislative changes. The Directive on long-term residents will be revised, to create a long-term EU residence status, by strengthening the right of long-term residents to move and work in other Member States.

The Single Permit Directive will be reviewed to establish a single procedure and a single permit for people coming to the EU to work to ensure harmonisation of admission and residence conditions for workers who do not fall under the ‘highly-skilled' category.

This will facilitate the admission of workers of different skills levels to the EU and promote their intra-EU mobility, so that labour migration can better contribute to filling labour and skills shortages in key sectors of the EU economy.

The European Parliament and the Council should conclude negotiations on the EU Blue Card Directive to attract highly skilled talent from outside the EU. The new scheme should make it easier to move and work in different Member States, level the playing field between national and EU systems and include highly skilled applicants from diverse backgrounds including beneficiaries of international protection.

In addition, a public consultation was launched on attracting skills and talent, to invite new ideas to boost the EU's attractiveness, facilitate skills matching and better protect labour migrants from exploitation. The responses will feed into the Skills and Talent package.

What are Talent Partnerships?

Cooperation with partner countries under the New Pact will strengthen mutually-beneficial international legal migration and mobility through Talent Partnerships. Talent Partnerships will help to match labour and skills needs in the EU, as well as being part of the EU's toolbox for engaging partner countries strategically on migration.

Talent Partnerships will link skilled workers, employers, social partners, labour market institutions, and education and training through dedicated outreach and by building a network of involved enterprises, as well as financially support mobility schemes for work or training.

These partnerships could be closely tied to the work of Erasmus+ and other programmes in the area of migration and development.

The Commission will organise a high-level conference with Member States and key EU stakeholders to launch Talent Partnerships.

What is the EU Talent Pool?

The Commission will explore options for setting up an EU Talent Pool, an EU-wide platform for international recruitment. The platform will allow skilled non-EU workers to express their interest in migrating to the EU, and could be identified by EU migration authorities and employers based on their needs.

What action will be taken to improve the integration of migrants and their families into society, including access to the labour market?

The integration and social inclusion of all migrants, including refugees, is crucial not only to foster the cohesion of our societies but also to ensure that migrants and refugees can reach their full potential in Europe. Many have necessary skills and talents to address skills gaps and labour shortages.

The responsibility for integration lies primarily with the Member States. However, the EU has established a large variety of measures to provide incentives and support for Member States and other actors in their efforts to promote integration. In 2016, the Commission adopted an Action Plan on the integration of non-EU nationals, which included about fifty actions at EU level to promote integration of refugees and other migrants across different areas (i.e. pre-departure and pre-arrival measures; support to education and vocational training; facilitation of labour market integration; access to services; and fostering the active participation of migrants to society). In the area of labour market integration of refugees, in 2017 the Commission established a European Partnership on Integration with Economic and Social Partners, which was recently renewed.

A new Action Plan on integration and inclusion will be presented by the end of the year [2020], as part of the broader EU agenda to promote social inclusion and cohesion. It will provide strategic guidance and set out concrete actions, - including financial support on the EU level - to foster the inclusion of migrants, bringing together relevant stakeholders and recognising that regional and local actors have a key part to play. It will draw on all relevant policies and tools in key areas such as social inclusion, employment, education, health, equality, culture and sport.

How does the New Pact strengthen resettlement?

The New Pact will formalise the current ad hoc scheme of approximately 29,500 resettlement places already being implemented by Member States, and cover a two-year period, 2020-2021. The New Pact calls on all Member States to join this collective effort and ensure continuity and scaling up of resettlement programmes in the years to come, supported financially and operationally by the EU.

To expand the number of admission places, the New Pact calls for promoting humanitarian admission and other complementary pathways for people in need of international protection, in addition to resettlement.

To ensure that newcomers who arrived via these pathways feel welcome and integrate smoothly and swiftly into their new host societies, Member States are also encouraged to roll out community sponsorship programmes to involve civil society and local communities alongside the State in these efforts.

What is community sponsorship and how will the New Pact make progress on it?

Community sponsorship models can take many different forms and can underpin resettlement, humanitarian admission programmes as well as complementary pathways for people in need of international protection. They help increase the number of admission places and successfully integrate refugees into welcoming host communities. Sponsorship programmes give a meaningful role to civil society, communities or groups of individuals in the reception and integration process of newcomers and are based on a strong partnership with the State, and private sponsors usually provide financial, practical and moral support to newcomers. Building on existing good practices, the New Pact calls on Member States to implement community sponsorship programmes with the support of the European Asylum Support Office and EU funding opportunities and calls on Member States to contribute to a European approach to community sponsorship.

Why is the Commission extending funding for the 2020 resettlement pledges into 2021?

The coronavirus pandemic led to severe disruption of resettlement programmes. For several months, resettlement arrivals have not been possible. As a consequence, Member States will need more time to implement their pledges made under the 2020 pledging exercise and to absorb the EU funding made available for this purpose. By extending the implementing period by 12 months, the Commission will help Member States to fully implement their 2020 pledges.

A new paradigm in the EU's engagement with external partners

How will the New Pact deepen cooperation with partner countries? What does the new comprehensive partnership approach entail?

Migration is a global challenge and a sustainable approach to migration management requires partnerships among countries and shared responsibility. The New Pact will support the development and reinforcement of strong, balanced, comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnerships with countries of origin, transit and destination of migrants and refugees.

This tailor-made approach will be based on a joint assessment of the interests of both the EU and its partner countries. It will rely on a mix of the following aspects, taking into account the specific situation of each partner country or region: (i) protecting refugees and people in need of international protection and supporting refugee-host countries, (ii) building economic opportunities in particular for youth and addressing root causes of irregular migration, (iii) reinforcing partner countries' capacities on migration management and governance, including on border management and combating migrant smuggling; (iv) fostering cooperation on return, readmission and reintegration; (v) supporting well-managed legal migration, including through new Talent Partnerships [see specific Q&A].

What changes does the Pact bring to relations with non-EU countries?

The Pact signals a change of paradigm in the EU's engagement with international partners on migration, centred around comprehensive, balanced and tailor-made migration partnerships, deepening, broadening and consolidating the trust already built. The focus will be on key partner countries of origin and transit, based on an analysis of EU and partners' interests.

The EU and its Member States will act in unity, bringing together a wide range of policy and financing tools in areas such as development cooperation, investment, trade, employment, visa policy, education and research, including through more strategic, policy-driven programming of the EU's external funding.

Engagement will take place at all levels - bilateral, regional, multilateral.

By providing closer operational support, through EU Home Affairs agencies like Frontex and Europol for example, the EU and its partners can improve governance in the area of migration management to address shared challenges like migrant smuggling and benefit from common opportunities. The Pact also puts specific focus on monitoring and incentivising progress on readmission through the Visa Code and other policy areas. New opportunities for legal migration will be found through EU talent partnerships [link to section].

How will the Commission and the External Action Service ensure that partnerships with third countries are mutually beneficial?

The EU's aim with partner countries is to ensure mutual support in addressing challenges linked to migration. Existing and new partnerships taken to the next level, in a balanced and tailor-made manner, based on an assessment of the EU's and partner countries' interests, specific situations and needs. This bespoke approach will put mutual benefits at its core and will also support actions aimed at delivering on the economy, sustainable development, education and skills, stability and security, and fostering relations with diasporas. The EU's delegations in countries around the world will play a key role in ensuring a strong link between the EU's actions on migration and the daily challenges of each partner country.

How will the new approach be implemented in practice?

The new approach will be implemented in close consultation with partner countries to factor in specific situations, needs and interests. Partnerships will be tailor-made to each partner country and will rely on country-specific contributions from all relevant Commission services, the European External Action Service and EU delegations. The Member States will be fully involved in deepening the EU's migration partnerships. The new approach puts systematic coordination between the EU and Member States in focus and will build on the experience and privileged relationships of some Member States with key partners, as well as national expertise in specific areas to advance operational cooperation.

How will Counter Migrant Smuggling Partnerships work?

Under a new 2021-2025 EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling, the Commission will stimulate cooperation between the EU and non-EU countries through targeted counter migrant smuggling partnerships. This will focus on enhanced support to capacity-building; improved information exchange; actions on the ground, including through support to common operational partnerships; and information campaigns on the risks of irregular migration and on legal alternatives.

EU Home Affairs agencies like Frontex and Europol will play a key role to step up operational cooperation with partner countries

The July 2020 Ministerial Conference between the EU and African partners on Anti-smuggling confirmed the mutual determination to address this problem. Follow-up is taking place at political and technical level.

What funding is available to support refugees and address migration issues outside the EU?

Mobilising different policies and financing tools such as development, investment and trade will be essential to implement this new comprehensive approach to migration. The new Multiannual Financial Framework will systematically factor in migration in programming across different headings, notably external. The Commission's proposal for the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) foresees funding to support refugees and migration issues outside of the EU, in particular with the proposed 10% target for migration and migration governance related actions. The NDICI is proposed at €70.8 billion. The proposed architecture of the EU's financial instruments provides additional flexibility to respond to unforeseen circumstances or crises, including on migration and refugees.

What is the EU doing to help other third countries hosting large numbers of refugees?

Working with partners allows the EU to fulfil its obligations to provide protection to those in need, and to maintain its place as the world's leading humanitarian and development donor. The EU has given considerable support to refugee hosting countries, notably to the countries affected by the Syria crisis through dedicated instruments such as the EU's Facility for Refugees in Turkey and the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis. The humanitarian evacuation of people from Libya to Emergency Transit Mechanisms in Niger and Rwanda for onward resettlement helps the most vulnerable to be taken away from desperate circumstances. Support for refugees is also channelled through the EU Trust Fund Africa. In December 2019 at the Global Refugee Forum, the EU reiterated its strong commitment to providing support to millions of refugees and displaced people, as well as fostering sustainable development-oriented solutions.

For More Information

Press release - A fresh start on migration: Building confidence and striking a new balance between responsibility and solidarity

MEMO: Building on the progress made since 2016 - New Pact on Migration and Asylum

Commission website - New Pact on Migration and Asylum

Statistics on migration to Europe

Legal documents - New Pact on Migration and Asylum


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