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EU Reaches ‘Historic’ Migration Deal

EU migration
Dozens of migrants and asylum seekers crossed into Greece from Turkey last week. Credit: AMNA

EU home affairs ministers reached a migration deal described as historic by officials that would see EU states pay €20,000 for each migrant they refuse to host.

Swedish immigration minister Maria Malmer Stenergard, who chaired the talks in Luxembourg on Thursday, described the majority agreement as a “historic step” that could unblock years of bitter disputes over the bloc’s immigration and asylum rules.

“I didn’t really believe I would be sitting here saying this … but we have adopted general approaches on the asylum and migration management regulation and asylum procedure regulation,” said Malmer Stenergard.

The agreement marked a “historic decision on two very difficult and sensitive files,” said the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johannson, adding that the process had been “a marathon”.

Countries on the EU’s southern edge, including Italy and Greece, have long demanded more help to cope with the numbers of people arriving on their shores.

Richer countries, including Germany and Sweden, have balked at how many head onto their soil.

EU migration deal sets quotas for each country

The agreement was reached after demands for ‘mandatory relocation’ of migrants from frontline countries such as Italy, Greece and Malta were abandoned in favor of a €20,000 financial contribution for each migrant that a member state says it cannot host.

The payments will go into a common EU fund – managed by the Commission – to finance projects aimed at addressing the root causes of migration, said EU officials.

A new system for the redistribution of migrants that will set effective quotas on how many people frontline states, including Greece, have to process before asking for help will also be established.

No member state can deal with the challenges of migration alone, the EU ministers agreed. Frontline countries need our solidarity, they stressed. “To balance the current system whereby a few member states are responsible for the vast majority of asylum applications, a new solidarity mechanism is being proposed that is simple, predictable and workable.”

Governments will also be required to process migrant claims within six months, compared to the 15-month timeline that was initially proposed.

According to the Greek Ministry of Migration, the establishment of a mandatory solidarity mechanism ensures permanent decongestion at the borders and adapts the commitments of the Dublin Regulation to the particular characteristics of frontline countries such as Greece.

It also supports the concept of safe third countries. In addition, the agreement establishes an annual political debate, at the ministerial level, which will raise the migration situation and the needs that exist in terms of solidarity, something that Greece has traditionally put forward, the Greek ministry said.

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