15 EU States Seek Plan to Send Asylum Seekers to Third Countries

Thu May 16 2024
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COPENHAGEN: Fifteen European Union (EU) member states have demanded a further tightening of the bloc’s asylum policy, making it easier to transfer undocumented asylum seekers to third countries, particularly in cases of sea rescue operations, AFP reported.

The demand, outlined in a letter addressed to the European Commission on Thursday, underscores growing concerns among EU nations regarding irregular migration and underscores a desire to adopt stricter measures to address the issue. This call comes just weeks ahead of the European Parliament elections, where far-right anti-immigration parties are expected to make significant gains.

The letter urges the European Commission to propose new solutions aimed at preventing irregular migration to Europe. It emphasized the need for mechanisms to detect, intercept, or rescue migrants at sea and transport them to designated safe locations in partner countries outside the EU.

The group of fifteen member states, which includes Italy and Greece, both significant entry points for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, seeks to build upon the recently adopted EU asylum pact, which introduced stricter controls on immigration, including expedited vetting procedures, enhanced border detention facilities, and accelerated deportation procedures.

Their proposal sought reassessment of the concept of “safe third countries” under EU asylum law, which allows for the transfer of asylum seekers to countries deemed safe, provided the applicant has a genuine connection with that country. The signatories aim to expand cooperation with third countries along major migration routes, drawing parallels with past agreements such as the EU-Turkey deal in 2016, which facilitated the relocation of Syrian refugees.

However, the letter notably excludes Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban has consistently resisted EU initiatives to share responsibility for hosting asylum seekers or contribute to the associated costs. Hungary’s absence from the coalition underscores ongoing divisions within the EU regarding migration policy and the challenges of achieving consensus among member states.

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