EU, the complicated negotiation for the Schengen reform: “More repatriations to countries of entry”

from Francesca Basso

The Commission’s proposal, which wants to avoid the reintroduction of border controls, worries Italy and Spain. The right to asylum has been weakened

from our correspondent
BRUSSELS – There is an issue that divides EU countries even more than the reform of the Stability Pact: immigration. Because, as a European diplomat has observed on several occasions, when it comes to immigration, the internal policies of 27 states are brought up. The reform of the Schengen Borders Code, which establishes the rules that allow people to cross EU countries without border controls and which also applies to external borders, it is therefore extremely delicate, because it is intertwined with secondary migration (travel from one EU country to another to apply for asylum).

Except last minute thoughts, tomorrow the EU Commission will discuss the revision of the Schengen Borders Code, which the EU Commissioner for Internal Affairs Ylva Johansson and the Vice President of the Commission with responsibility for migration, Margaritis Schinas are working on. The proposal contains some politically sensitive elements including the strengthening of returns of irregular migrants to the countries of first entry, which is unlikely to agree with Italy and other countries of first entry such as Spain.

The presentation was already scheduled for December 1st and then postponed. The text distributed to the toilets only on Friday morning for a first confrontation in the afternoon, will be discussed today in the meeting of the cabinet heads and it also raised doubts within the Commission, starting with the timing. One of the cornerstones, as Schinas announced a few days ago, is the introduction of the “Definition of hybrid attack” to give legal value to the “exploitation” of migrants and asylum seekers, which we have witnessed in recent weeks on the border between Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus, where dictator Alexander Lukashenko used migrants as a “weapon” to destabilize the EU , first by luring them with the deception of a better future in Europe and then forcing them to cross the border armored by Polish soldiers.

A dramatic situation, which led the Commission on 1 December to propose a series of temporary measures on asylum and repatriation to help the three countries. A proposal that has attracted criticism, there are those who have seen the abdication of the right of asylum to protect the fortress of Europe. Now in fact it would be codified. The new proposal, which is based on the premise of prevent EU states from reintroducing border controls if not necessary (currently in force in six countries), it would also aim at strengthening the returns of irregular migrants to the countries of first entry.

A fundamental theme for countries such as France, Germany, Holland and Belgium who face the largest number of asylum applications in Europe. The clash is between the states of first entry and those of destination: the former ask for a solidarity that the latter believe they already give. Reason why the negotiations on the new Pact for Migration and Asylum have stalled. Schengen would be used to meet these countries. It is no coincidence that the French President Emmanuel Macron, in presenting the program of the French EU presidency which will begin on January 1st, has put the Schengen reform among its priorities.

In France in April there are the presidential elections and the game will also be played on migration. “Protecting our borders is an essential condition, both to guarantee the security of Europeans and to face the challenge of migration and avoid the tragedies we have experienced,” Macron said, adding that, for avoid an “abuse” of the right of asylum in Europe, “Under this presidency we will initiate a reform of the Schengen area”. An overall approach to the migration issue, as addressed, is fundamental for Italy in the new Pact on migration in order to combine responsibility and responsibility. The very divisive text arrives two days before the European Council.