Most important European asylum system reform of the last decade makes decisive step forward

"After lengthy negotiations, the European Parliament on Wednesday evening narrowly approved the reform of the EU asylum system, first proposed by the European Commission in 2020 – in a version that the EU member states are likely to agree to in the Council of the European Union. This marks a decisive step forward for the most comprehensive EU asylum reform in many years. 

The most important aspect of the reform package is the establishment of European solidarity to more fairly distribute the responsibility for refugee protection and for handling irregular migration to Europe among the member states. Every EU member state will have to participate either by accepting refugees and other asylum seekers, through logistical support, or at least through financial assistance. Additionally, there will be more solidarity between the EU and non-EU states that host refugees. Countries of first asylum outside the EU will be supported by the EU in providing for and integrating refugees so they do not continue their journey to the EU.  

The approval of this solidarity mechanism should be viewed as a major success for the European Commission, which has thus demonstrated its capacity to act in an important policy area just before the re-election of the European Parliament. 

The debates leading up to the vote have shown that the procedures at the EU's external borders, which may cause hardship for asylum seekers from countries considered relatively safe, find broad cross-party support in Europe. It will be crucial that, despite the new restrictions in the reform package, fair and swift asylum procedures will be ensured in the future, even in countries that have previously had a poor track record in this area. 

The parties that voted in favor of the reform package in the European Parliament today also emphasized in the debate that it represents a compromise with which no one is completely satisfied. However, had the reform failed in the European Parliament, many EU member states would have retreated even more towards tightening border security and worsening conditions for refugees and other asylum seekers. That would have neither improved a crucial point of the EU asylum system nor helped the people who need protection from persecution.“