Home News Explained: What is the EU Asylum and Migration Pact?

Explained: What is the EU Asylum and Migration Pact?

A TD for Laois/Offaly has described Ireland’s decision to opt in to the EU’s Asylum and Migration Pact as “a political earthquake.”

Following a series of debates, a Dáil vote on Wednesday passed by an narrow margin – 79 votes to 72 – to opt in to the Pact.

First proposed by the European Commission in 2020, the Pact is a set of new rules managing migration and establishing a common asylum system in the European Union, who say the Pact will deliver results “while remaining grounded in our European values.”

The EU say the Pact aims to strengthen key policies they make on migration, asylum, border management and integration. It is built on four main pillars:

Securing External Borders

  • Robust screening;
  • Asylum and migration database;
  • Border procedure and returns;
  • Crisis protocols.

This outlines strategies for securing external borders, including pre-entry screening, establishing a database, efficient border procedures, and how to react in times of crisis.

It introduces registration, security and health checks, and fingerprinting for the Eurodac database for third country nationals with no valid permission to enter EU Member State territory.

Fast and Efficient Procedures

  • Clear asylum rules;
  • Guarantee people’s rights;
  • Qualification for refugee status;
  • Prevent abuse.

This aims to streamline asylum procedures with legally binding timeframes and clear standards.

It ensures the rights of asylum seekers and establishes standards for refugee and asylum seeker qualifications.

Effective systems of solidarity and responsibility

  • Permeant solidarity framework;
  • Operational and financial support;
  • Rules and responsibilities for asylum applications;
  • Prevent secondary movements.

This introduces a permanent solidarity framework to ensure EU countries receive support and share asylum-related responsibilities among Member States.

It also clarifies rules on responsibility for asylum applications and aims to prevent secondary movements of asylum seekers.

Embedding migration in international partnerships

  • Prevent irregular departures;
  • Prevent migrant smuggling;
  • Readmission;
  • Promote legal pathways.

This focuses on preventing irregular arrivals of people through border management in partner countries.

It is designed to combat migrant smuggling by creating partnerships with UN agencies and Talent Partnerships, some of which have already been launched with Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

They will allow people from the countries concerned to come work, study, and train in the EU, developing new skills that can benefit later their countries of origin.

While some aspects of the Pact have been welcomed, criticisms have also emerged, with concerns raised about responsibility-sharing and solidarity among EU member states.

Caution has been advised regarding the screening and border procedures and the issue of statelessness has been again been raised.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD obtained cabinet approval in April to seek the necessary approvals from the Houses of the Oireachtas to opt in to measures in the Pact.

Following the vote of approval in the Dáil, Independent TD for Laois/Offaly Carol Nolan sent out an earnest warning.

Deputy Nolan described Ireland’s decision to opt in to the Pact as “a political earthquake that will escalate the breakdown in social cohesion and trust by further removing national decision-making capacity on the issues to the European Union.”

The Independent TD also said the close nature of the vote “highlights the absurdity of recent ministerial and Government rhetoric,” who she said claimed that anyone opposing the Pact was motivated by a racist or far right agenda.

“By the narrowest of margins this Government has embarked upon a policy agenda that does not have the meaningful consent of the Irish people and which has at all times lacked even the appearance of public consultation,” Deputy Nolan said.

“That kind of democratic deficit cannot be smoothed over or wished away by a vote in the Dáil.

“I and indeed the handful of my colleagues who have consistently worked to change the narrative on these issues so that it reflects the views of ordinary people, remain dedicated to exposing these shivering sell-outs who have now conceded one of the greatest transfers of national sovereignty to the EU in a generation.”

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