“If Europe doesn’t solve the migration problem there won’t be an EU in 5 years”

A conference of EU Asylum Ministers has failed to produce an agreement on reforming the rules on asylum and the reception of migrants within the European Union. Speaking after the meeting, the Belgian Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration policy Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist) said “The reform of the Dublin Regulation is dead". Mr Francken went on to call to bring illegal migration to a halt.

Central to Tuesday’s talks were proposals to modify the Dublin Regulation. The Dublin regulation decrees that the first EU state that a migrant enters is responsible for dealing with their asylum application. Consequently, countries on the southern limits of the EU such as Greece and Italy treat the lion’s share of asylum applications.

As a measure to deal with the asylum crisis, the European Commission proposed imposing quotas on members states for the treatment of asylum applications. However, agreement on the quotas has not yet been reached and today’s talks in Luxembourg once again drew a blank. This leads Mr Francken to reach the conclusion that “the reform of the Dublin Regulation is dead”.

As no agreement was reached the ball is now in the court of the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. He will raise the issue during the forthcoming European summit on 28 and 29 June.
However, Mr Francken doesn’t believe that agreement will be reached then either as “there isn’t even a qualified majority”.

"A complete stop to illegal migration“

An informal meeting of EU Asylum Ministers is planned for 12 and 13 July in Austria. There “new perspectives” regarding European migration policy will be discussed.

The strengthening of the EU external borders is one issue that will be discussed. Mr Francken is a strong advocate of this as he believes that EU countries will only show solidarity “once the door has been closed”. He also believes that if the tide of illegal migration is not stopped the very existence of the Schengen Area and even the EU itself is threatened.

Mr Francken would use so-called “push-backs”, sending migrants back to camps in for example Tunisia awaiting a decision on their case. However, a 2012 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights saw the principle of push backs being shelved. The Secretary of State believes that a way needs to be found to get round the ruling so that push backs can recommence.

Top stories