Europe’s New Migration Reform

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On October 4, 2023, European Union (EU) Member States agreed on a proposed regulation on crisis and force majeure in migration and asylum. [1]This new text sets the rules that establish the legal framework for European countries to manage a crisis in the field of asylum and migration in the face of a mass influx of migrants. This crisis management reform is a part of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum presented in 2020 by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, which has not yet entered into force.

Especially in the face of the migration crisis of the last decade, the unilateral self-interested policies of the Member States have weakened the Union’s asylum system. Accordingly, the New Pact on Migration and Asylum proposes a system that facilitates and accelerates asylum procedures, cooperation on border control and security, and increased return of irregular migrants. In other words, the pact clearly outlines the tasks of the member states in solving the migration crisis in Europe.

mandatory solidarity system, Member States are required to host a certain number of asylum seekers and to pay 20,000 euros for each migrant they reject or to finance infrastructure and operational support. [2] While the country of first arrival remains responsible for the asylum application, procedures are set out for the expeditious processing of asylum seekers’ applications and for expediting the return of those whose claims are rejected.

Another element of the pact is the prevention of irregular migration to Europe by European countries through external partnerships with countries outside the Union. Based on this, member states have signed bilateral agreements with various non-EU countries in order to solve the problem of human trafficking and protect European borders. Thus, with the externalization of borders strategy, the Union aims to stop the movement of migrants and asylum seekers before they reach the European borders.

Based on this strategy, the EU reached an agreement with Tunisia in July 2022. [3] The agreement includes the provision of aid funds in exchange for stopping irregular migration from Tunisia to Europe. Despite the democratic backsliding in Tunisia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the Tunisian agreement as a ‘blueprint’ for future agreements with other countries in the region[4] Although the agreement with Tunisia is seen as a potential model for the future, it is unclear how this cooperation will proceed now that Qais Said has refused and returned the EU’s first payment. [5]

Another unclear issue is how European countries will develop screening mechanisms to ascertain whether asylum seekers have valid reasons for seeking asylum before entering Europe’s borders. The Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has stated that Europe should provide asylum only to those who can be legally recognized as refugees and that it is essential to establish a system to assess asylum claims in Africa.[6] Austria, on the other hand, has stated that it is trying to set up a system to evaluate asylum applications, similar to the UK’s plan to deport migrants to Rwanda. [7]

While there is a debate on how to verify who is entitled to asylum and who is not, the EU’s strategies to stem the flow of refugees are leading to various human rights violations and making migration routes more dangerous. Civil society organizations have also expressed concern that the provisions of the New Migration and Asylum Pact will negatively affect the rights of asylum seekers. The dispute between Italy and Germany over Berlin’s decision to provide state funding for search and rescue vessels provided by NGOs in the Mediterranean is evidence that the rights of asylum seekers are at stake. Germany has argued that saving lives at sea is a legitimate humanitarian and moral duty. In opposition, the Meloni Government has argued that this approach can only encourage more migrants to come to European shores. [8]

Considering these developments, it is possible to say that Europe’s policy on migration and asylum is an extension of Eurocentric thinking. Europe puts itself at the center of the international system. It prioritizes the protection of its borders and implements policies that violate the rights of asylum seekers for this purpose. In this context, Europe sees countries outside its borders as a means to strengthen its border security and assigns them the task of preventing unwanted migration flows towards the Union. This view is supported by the fact that Europe has signed bilateral agreements with third countries to provide funding in exchange for their cooperation in achieving the EU’s objectives. Otherwise, the EU imposes funding restrictions on these countries.

Significantly, since 2015, the EU’s pressure on migration has increased with refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. The different attitudes of member states towards migration and asylum policy due to national interests make it difficult to reach a consensus. The EU’s financing of Kyiv in the Ukraine-Russia war, which is expected to last longer, and the creation of aid funds for Palestinian civilians in the Israel-Hamas conflict are likely to play a role in reducing the Union’s capacity to effectively address the challenges posed by the migration and refugee crisis. It is likely that when the New Pact on Migration and Asylum enters into force, it will not achieve the desired results in overcoming migration policy challenges among Member States any time soon. Moreover, one of the potential consequences of the conflict between Israel and Hamas is the creation of a new wave of refugees to Europe. In this context, it is foreseeable that the number of agreements made by member states with third countries to solve the migration and refugee crisis will increase.

[1] “Successful Political Agreement Paves The Way For The Adoption Of The New Pact On Migration And Asylum”, European Commission,, (Erişim Tarihi: 06.11.2023).

[2] “In New Breakthrough, EU Countries Agree New Rules To Manage Future Migration Crises”, Euronews, (Erişim Tarihi: 02.11.2023)

[3] “EU Finalizes Migrant Deal With Tunisia”, Politico,, (Erişim Tarihi: 02.11.2023).

[4] “Tunisia Migration Deal A Model For Others, EU’s Von Der Leyen Says”, Reuters, (Erişim Tarihi: 06.11.2023).

[5] “Tunisia Hands Back €60M Of EU Funding As Migrant Deal Tensions Soar”, Politico, (Erişim Tarihi: 11.10.2023).

[6] “Meloni, Italy’s Anti-Immigrant Leader, Swims In Turmoil As Migrant Flows Spike Under Her Watch”, Courthouse news, (Erişim Tarihi: 31.10.2023).

[7] “Austria Looks To UK For ‘Rwanda-Style’ Plan To Outsource Asylum Applications”, Euronews , (Erişim Tarihi: 03.11.2023).

[8] “Italy Criticises Germany For Funding Migrant Charity Groups”, Reuters,

(Erişim Tarihi: 24.09.2023).

Lal İlhan, 2020 yılında Bologna Üniversitesi Siyasi Bilimler ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nden "The Limits of Cosmopolitanism in the Era of Globalization" başlıklı bitirme teziyle mezun olmuştur. 2022 yılında Sapienza Roma Üniversitesi Kalkınma ve Uluslararası İşbirliği Bölümü'ndeki yüksek lisansını "Capitalism and Democracy; Undeniable Contradiction or Constructible Harmony" başlıklı teziyle tamamlamıştır. İleri derecede İngilizce ve İtalyanca bilen Lal’in başlıca ilgi alanları; Avrupa Birliği, uluslararası örgütler ve uluslararası kalkınmadır.