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Rokas Kriauciunas and Miriam van der Veen: Moving towards a common European approach to migration

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

This week a new European Commission proposal for a common migration policy was introduced to Member State governments during a Ministers of Interior conference 1 . The so-called “New Pact on Migration and Asylum” was presented on the 23rd of September by the Commission. From this week onwards, the proposal will have to undergo extensive intergovernmental scrutiny before it can effectively come into practice.

Integrally, the “New Pact on Migration and Asylum” aims to propose a framework that would deal with asylum seekers coming to the European Union (EU) based on solidarity and inclusiveness. It introduces three pillars inherent to the new migration policy. The first pillar pushes for more efficient and faster procedures at the borders. The second pillar focuses on establishing a balanced and fair division of responsibility 2 . In other words, the mandatory redistribution and quotas for the Member States that were introduced in response to the 2015 migration crisis would be replaced by a system of “flexible contributions”. In essence, this means that some Member States can offer operational support instead of taking in asylum seekers. The final pillar promises increased cooperation with non-EU countries.

A negotiation period between the Commission and the Member States might have significant implications. Highly polarizing measures, like the mandatory redistribution scheme, would be replaced by a more flexible approach. This replacement could potentially ease the pressure between the Central European states and coastline states like Italy, Malta and Greece. Overall, such a change in policy might indicate that the EU aims to resolve known disagreements and achieve higher levels of solidarity.

While the conference between the Ministers of Interior is just a first step in a long process

of negotiations, the “New Pact on Migration and Asylum” could be an instrument that ensures further integration and solidarity between EU Member States. Observers are hopeful that some of the key agreements will be achieved as early as this December.

Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán loses again in court

The EU’s highest court has decided that the 2017 Hungarian education reforms are in breach of EU legislation. For instance, the education law in question stated that foreign universities must also possess a campus in their home country. This measure especially threatened the Central European University founded by George Soros, a known opponent of Orbán. Because of the law, Soros had to leave Hungary at the end of 2018. Given the court's judgement, Hungary has to amend the law or the European Commission may start a penalty procedure. Also, earlier this year another controversial Hungarian law regarding NGOs receiving money from abroad was also declared illegal by the EU-court.

EU legal action against the United Kingdom

The European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has announced that the EU is

launching legal action against the UK. This announcement comes in response to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s failure to drop legislation regarding the British internal market that would overwrite the withdrawal agreement from the EU and violate international law. The legislation is a delicate topic because of the border issue on the island of Ireland. The UK defends the legislation by stating that it is necessary to create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and to protect the gains from the Irish peace process.

EU sanctions against Belarus

On October 2nd , the European Council imposed sanctions on Belarus in response to the repression and electoral fraud that occurred during the recent election. Forty individuals have been identified as responsible for misconduct during the electoral process and intimidation against peaceful demonstrators, journalists and opposition members. The sanctions against these forty individuals include a travel ban and asset freezing measures. On October 1st , EU leaders again condemned the unacceptable violence by Belarusian authorities. Finally, the Council also affirmed support for new, free and fair elections.

Written by Rokas Kriauciunas and Miriam van der Veen, Amsterdam Chapter of European Horizons.

Reference list:

Barigazzi J. (2020). Migration rubber hits political road, Politico. Retrieved on October 9th 2020 from



European Commission (2020). A fresh start on migration: Building confidence and striking a new balance between responsibility and solidarity. Retrieved on October 9th 2020 from

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