Lifejackets are pictured in front of the European Commission – REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

More Than 80 Civil Society Organisations Call on MEPs to Vote Down Harmful EU Migration Pact

In International Advocacy Program, Parliament & the European Union by CIHRS

Amidst warnings from over 50 Civil Society Organisations, EU lawmakers reached a political agreement on the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum in December. The agreement is a continuation of a decade of policy that has led to the proliferation of rights violations in Europe. Moreover, it will have devastating implications for the right to international protection in the bloc and greenlight abuses across Europe including racial profiling, default de facto detention and pushbacks. Tomorrow, MEPs will be presented with a final chance to reject the files in a Committee vote, and give a political signal against the adoption of a Pact that would undermine fundamental rights.

Taken together, the Regulations will usher in a new system for ‘managing migration’ in the EU that is characterised by:

  • De facto detention at borders with no exemption for families with children of all ages, accelerated, substandard procedures to assess asylum claims rather than full and fair assessments, and an emphasis on return procedures with lowered safeguards.
  • Far more asylum applicants will end up in border procedures and, through the ‘legal fiction of non-entry’, will not be considered as on EU territory, which would lead to lower safeguards and heightens the risk of human rights violations and pushbacks at borders. Even unaccompanied children can be held in border procedures when state authorities consider them a ‘danger to national security or public order’. Moreover, experience has shown that containing large numbers of people in border areas for prolonged periods leads to the chronic overcrowding and inhumane conditions, as witnessed on the Aegean islands.
  • Through the broadening of the ‘safe third country’ principle, people asking for asylum will be declared inadmissible and increasingly deported to countries outside of the EU on the basis of a widely-defined connection with those countries, heightening the risk of refoulement. In the past, this has manifested in failed agreements like the EU-Turkey deal, externalising the processing of asylum claims to third countries.
  • In the absence of safe and regular pathways, people seeking safety or livelihoods are forced to take ever more dangerous routes, resulting in 2023 being the deadliest year on record since 2015. In the Mediterranean alone, more than 2,500 individuals were reported as dead or disappeared last year, a figure that is only the tip of the iceberg. The Pact fails to address this, and instead continues to reinforce Fortress Europe.

Civil society and human rights watchdogs have consistently reported on systematic violations of the fundamental rights of people seeking safety or livelihood, particularly racialised communities by denying them access to shelter, services, and asylum and resorting to pushbacks en masse. All this, whilst pursuing policies that seek to criminalise movement at large, contributes to a shrinking civic space. The Commission put forth the New Pact as a ‘solution’ for uneven standards in the implementation of a Common European Asylum System across Member States. Yet, the Pact does nothing to remedy this nor support Member States receiving large numbers of arrivals at the external borders. The ‘first country of entry’ principle remains and there will be no mandatory relocation of people saved through Search and Rescue missions – an initiative that could have provided humane and sustainable solutions through the proportionate distribution of asylum applicants throughout Europe. Instead, Member States that do not directly receive arrivals can avoid responsibility-sharing by financing border fortification and immigration detention facilities in border Member States or by funding dubious ‘projects’ in non-EU countries.

The negotiations were rushed towards closure by the European Commission and the Spanish and Belgian Presidencies of the Council, leading to more than 48 hours of marathon trilogue negotiations and the abandonment of the last minimal safeguards that had been upheld by the Parliament. What remains is an extremely complex legislative framework that does not provide any effective solution to the migration management issues raised over the past years, and fails to keep people safe. The agreement, at its core, replicates every principle of the Council’s mandate.

We, the undersigned, call on MEPs to reject the Pact in the upcoming LIBE vote. It creates a system whereby the right to seek asylum in the EU is severely threatened and will engender a proliferation of human rights violations against people across Europe due to their migration status.

  1. Access Now
  2. ActionAid International
  3. AiA-Alternative Informatics Association
  4. AMERA International
  5. ARCI
  6. Avocats Sans Frontières France
  7. Be Aware And Share (BAAS)
  8. Better Days Greece
  9. Birlikte Yaşamak İstiyoruz İnisiyatifi (We Want to Live Together İnitiative) / Türkiye (Turkey)
  10. Bits of Freedom
  11. Boat Refugee Foundation
  12. Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN)
  13. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  14. Centre for Peace Studies
  15. Churches´Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME)
  16. CILD
  17. CIRÉ asbl
  18. CNCD-11.11.11
  19. Collective Aid
  20. Dråpen i Havet / Stagona
  21. Draseis sti Geitonia
  22. ECHO100PLUS
  23. Equal Legal Aid
  24. Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice
  25. EuroMed Rights
  26. European Civic Forum
  27. European Network Against Racism
  28. European Sex Workers Rights Alliance
  29. Federation of protestant churches in Italy (FCEI)
  30. Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid
  31. Flucht, interkulturelle Arbeit, Migration, Diakonie Hessen,
  32. ForRefugees
  33. Fundación para la Innovación, Investigación, Formación y el Desarrollo Comunitario (FÜNDEC)
  34. Greek Council for Refugees
  35. Geloof & Samenleving
  36. Greek Forum of Migrants
  37. Grenzenlose Wärme – Refugee Relief Work e.V.
  38. Hermes Center
  39. HIAS Europe
  40. Homo Digitalis
  41. Hope Cafe Athens
  42. Human Rights Watch
  43. HumanRights360
  44. I Have Rights
  45. Infokolpa
  46. Institute Circle
  47. Inter Alia
  48. International Rescue Committee
  49. Inventati
  50. JRS Europe
  51. Kerk in Actie
  52. LDH (Ligue des droits de l’Homme)
  53. Legal Centre Lesvos
  54. Lesvos Solidarity (LESOL)
  55. Lighthouse Relief
  56. Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (LDH)
  57. Ligue des droits humains
  58. Migration Policy group (MPG)
  59. Mobile Info Team
  60. Network for Children’s Rights (Greece)
  61. Northern Lights Aid
  62. Oxfam
  63. Peace Institute (Mirovni inštitut)
  64. Project Armonia
  65. Project ELPIDA e.V.
  66. Quaker Council for European Affairs
  67. ReFOCUS Media Labs
  68. Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
  69. Refugees Welcome Italia
  70. Salud por Derecho
  71. Samos Volunteers
  72. Save the Children
  73. Sea-Watch
  74. Second Tree
  75. Sienos Grupė (Lithuania)
  77. Statewatch
  78. Still I Rise
  79. The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe)
  80. Velos Youth
  81. WissenschaftlerInnen für den Frieden Deutschland (Academics for Peace in Germany)
  82. Yoga and Sports with Refugees

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