Europe migration: EU to reveal mandatory rules on migration

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The European Union is set to detail new, mandatory measures on managing migration, which has challenged the unity of the bloc for several years.

The German-backed migration pact is expected to provide funding for member states in return for hosting refugees.

It is also expected to focus on how EU states can share the task of taking in those arriving on Europe’s shores.

But, as in previous years, the new proposals are likely to face opposition from some member states.

Ever since the influx of migrants and refugees in 2015, mainly via Italy and Greece, the EU’s 27 states have been divided over their response.

Italy and Greece have accused wealthier northern countries of failing to do enough, but a number of Central and Eastern European nations have been openly resistant to the idea of taking in a quota of migrants.

What’s in the plan?

The so-called “Mandatory Solidarity Mechanism” will oblige each member state to accept a number of refugees in return for a reported €10,000 (£9,200; $11,750) per adult and €12,000 for an unaccompanied child. Those EU states that fail to honour the pact could face court proceedings and large fines.

Countries such as Hungary and Poland that have refused to take in arrivals in the past could be asked to help return failed asylum claimants.

The new pact, which has been pushed most strongly by Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been brought forward following fires on the Greek island of Lesbos that left more than 12,000 migrants and refugees stranded.

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The fires, which levelled the island’s sprawling and crowded Moria migrant camp, led to calls for European states to take firmer action and take in those who have been left homeless. But already the reported measures have led to the charity Save the Children to accuse the EU of failing to learn “from its recent mistakes”.

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No easy fix for a long-running crisis

Analysis by Kevin Connolly, Europe correspondent

Protesters march during a demonstration for the evacuation of all migrant camps in Greece

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Of all the problems that have beset the European Union none is more chronic or more corrosive than migration. The search for solutions began even before the upheaval of 2015 saw a million migrants, refugees and asylum seekers arrive on the bloc’s shores.

And the 2016 deal under which Turkey agreed to hold back part of that tide of humanity in return for substantial cash payments is now showing signs of strain. That leaves the EU countries where migrants first land – notably Greece and Italy – bearing the bulk of the burden. The EU’s latest answer seems likely to involve another attempt at mandatory sharing, sweetened by cash payments for every migrant member states accept.

But Poland and Hungary have resolutely resisted such plans in the past. It’s unlikely that money or EU plans for quicker processing of asylum claims will change their views.

So when EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson says “no-one will be satisfied” with these new measures, she is highlighting the compromise she has to strike between humanitarian duty and political reality.

Moreover, she is also emphasising the difficulty of fixing this long-running crisis.

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Earlier this month, Germany said 10 European countries had agreed to take in 400 unaccompanied minors who fled the fire at the Moria camp. The majority of these will go to Germany and France.

But the measures announced on Wednesday are expected to outline a more formal process for sharing migrants and refugees who arrive in the EU.

Faster processing of new arrivals is being proposed, but the current rule linking asylum to the first country of entry, such as Greece, is unlikely to change.

Speedier returns for migrants whose asylum claims have been rejected is also planned, with greater help for non-EU countries hit by migration.

Anita Bay Bundegaard of Save the Children said plans for special attention to be made to children were welcome, but the charity feared the new plans “risk repeating the same flawed approach” that led to the fire at Moria and earlier disasters.

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