Today, MEPs voted in favour of the final agreement on the EU’s Pact on Migration and Asylum in the Parliament’s civil liberties committee.

As the grand coalition of centre-right (EPP), liberals (Renew) and socialists (S&D) hammer another nail in the coffin of the right to asylum, today marks another shameful day in EU policy-making and dismantling of human rights.

Left MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) commented on the vote:

“The confirmation of the December trilogue outcome comes as no surprise but continues to pave the way for an unprecedented shift to the right in EU asylum policy. The Migration Pact is the most massive tightening of European asylum and migration law since the founding of the EU. The majority of the parliamentary groups support this turning point. This is a historic failure of Parliament and a bitter defeat for democracy. All colleagues from the major political groups who support this fatal package are responsible for the normalisation of racist and right-wing populist narratives in Europe. People seeking protection are made into scapegoats. It is a question of political decency to clearly say no here.”

Left MEP Malin Björk (Vänsterpartiet, Sweden) said:

“This pact is modelled on the worst existing practices at our borders. We will see more mass detention, push-backs, and dirty deals with third countries. There will be a systematic lack of access to fair asylum procedures. We know that Europe can do so much better than this. We saw it with the welcoming of Ukrainian refugees, and that is the model we should have used for shaping EU asylum policies,”

Left MEP Konstantinos Arvanitis (Syriza, Greece) added:

“Today we are voting on the outcome of the trilogues regarding the New Migration and Asylum Pact. From the first moment we were against this Pact, and unfortunately the outcome of the trilogues meets our worst expectations. It is the legitimation of the far right’s narrative. This is not solidarity with first-entry Member States, nor with people fleeing from suffering and death. We are against this Pact and we will continue fighting for real solidarity, dignity and respect of human rights.”

Today’s vote follows the interinstitutional agreement reached in December. The deal exceeded the Left’s worst expectations. Some red lines for The Left during the negotiations included:

  • Regulation on Asylum and Migration Management: failed to reform the Dublin Regulation and conversely only strengthens the responsibility of member states of first entry.
  • Asylum Procedure Regulation: the cornerstone of Pact that will lead to systematic detention including children and families. During technical negotiations after the “deal”, the Parliament accepted the one-year review clause from the Council (so-called “Rwanda clause”), whereby the Commission has to review the concept of safe third country in 1 year and could propose amendments leaving the door wide open to full externalisation of asylum procedures.
  • Screening Regulation: creates a legal grey zone (“fiction of non-entry”) and normalises racial profiling in screening procedures within the EU’s territory. The Commission’s human rights monitoring mechanism will not include border surveillance, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the whole policy.
  • Crisis Regulation: accepting “instrumentalisation” of migration as a “crisis” situation opens the possibility to member states to channel every applicant into the border procedure and will allow member states to bypass the asylum acquis and derogate from their responsibilities.

The Migration Pact will not stop forced migration due to persecution, war and poverty, it will not stop migration: it only institutionalises violence, persecution and racism. The Left has been fighting for a humane, solidarity-based migration policy with proposed alternatives that would allow people to come to Europe in dignity. This fight will continue.

The next vote will take place during the plenary session on April 11 (tbc).

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