Learn more about the European Commission’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum

On 23 September 2020, the European Commission introduced a new plan for the management of migration and asylum in Europe, the so-called New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

The New Pact on Migration and Asylum acknowledges that internal and external aspects of migration are interdependent and aims for a more effective, sustainable, and more humane migration and asylum system.

A key aspect defined in the New Pact of Migration and Asylum is Safer entering of migrants and refugees into the EU. By this, the Commission wants to manage migration more “up-stream” and to support refugees and migrants outside of the EU in third countries. This will involve more support to third countries to expand their border management and concluding partnerships through which migrants can be returned more easily to their countries of origin.

A second key aspect set out in the New Pact is the Better integration of migrants and refugees into the EU societies. This refers to the management of external borders. The Commission wants to introduce a “New integrated screening procedure” of all irregularly arriving migrants at the external borders within five days. Among other things, this will include identification via the EURODAC database, a health and security check, and individual assessment of chances of a successful asylum request.  Following the screening, unaccompanied children, families, and those with a high likelihood of being granted asylum will be channeled into the normal asylum procedure. Those posing a security risk and/or have a low likelihood of receiving asylum will be channeled into a new and quicker “border asylum procedure” which should not exceed 12 weeks. In case they are ineligible for asylum, they should be returned via a “return border procedure” to their country of origin within another 12 weeks. Families with children under 12 and unaccompanied children are exempt from the border procedures.

A third main aspect of the New Pact of Migration and Asylum puts in place a Better distribution of migrants and refugees in the EU member states. It is a question of fair rules for internal solidarity. The Commission wants to establish a system of permanent, effective and constant solidarity. In practice, this should make it possible for a member state “under pressure” due to high numbers of migrants to trigger a “solidarity mechanism” that requires other member states to help. They can do so in two main ways: by either relocating likely refugees to their territories (with a greater focus on family reunification) or by “sponsoring” the return of unlikely refugees to their countries of origin, including responsibility for their reintegration. In this case, it is mandatory for member states to contribute to this system of solidarity. Member states may also contribute voluntarily at any time. The Commission proposes a mandatory quota system that should clarify the number of individuals for which a single member state will be responsible. This solidarity mechanism is supposed to be binding for all migrants irregularly crossing the Mediterranean and being disembarked in the EU.

With the New Pact, the Commission proposes that 5 criteria are applied to determining responsibility to a member state for an asylum claim:

  1. The best interest of the child
  2. The presence of a family member who has international protection or is an applicant in a certain member state
  3. Failing that, a residence document or visa issued in a member state
  4. A diploma or qualification issued from an education institution in a member state
  5. Only if none of these criteria apply: the member state of irregular entry will be responsible.

Among other important features of the New Pact of Migration and Asylum, there is also the development of EU Talent Partnerships with partner countries, a public consultation on legal migration, and the conclusion of negotiations on the EU Blue Card directive for highly skilled migrants.

On a final note, with the New Pact, the Commission wants to put forward a fresh start on migration in the EU, which, at the same time, would incline a continued and stronger cooperation within the EU and the member countries in the mutual interest of better managing migration and a more balanced responsibility and solidarity.