EU Member States agree on key parts of Pact on Migration and Asylum
Better distribution of asylum applications, harmonised asylum processes and a more harmonised regulatory framework for third-country workers. After years of negotiations, the EU Member States have agreed on significant parts of the Pact on Migration and Asylum.
As early as 2016, the European Commission proposed a set of amendments to EU asylum legislation that the Member States were unable to agree on. In September 2020, the European Commission presented a new proposal known as the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.
As holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Sweden has worked hard to get the EU Member States to agree on this key piece of legislation, and after many difficult trade-offs and discussions, there is now an agreement in the Council on two of the most central legislative acts. This means that the EU is now well on the way to a fairer and more uniform migration system.
Solidarity and sharing of responsibility between EU countries
The most critical issue in the negotiations has been how to distribute asylum seekers more evenly. How and where an asylum application is processed is currently set out in the Dublin Regulation, but the system has shown major shortcomings, with some countries shouldering an excessive burden when many refugees arrive at the same time and asylum seekers being treated differently across the EU. Finding a balance between responsibility and solidarity has meant difficult trade-offs, but the EU Member States have now agreed on a new system for asylum and migration management. Under the new system, asylum applications will be better distributed between Member States.
Simplified asylum procedure
The Member States have also agreed to improve the asylum procedure and make it more uniform across the EU, including rules on the time limit for registration and processing of asylum applications, and for decisions. The new rules also establish the appeal process.
The Member States also managed to agree on the thorny issue of mandatory border procedures. Under these rules, some asylum seekers must remain near the border until their asylum application has been examined. This applies, for example, to asylum seekers who pose a risk to national security or have provided false information.
Making it easier for people to work in the EU
Another important part of the Pact on Migration and Asylum is facilitating procedures for third-country workers. The labour immigration systems are different in the EU Member States, but the work permit procedure will now be further harmonised.
The overarching aim of the Single Permit Directive is to improve the EU’s ability to attract skilled workers in order to reduce skills shortages and strengthen EU competitiveness. One important change is allowing single permit holders to change employers. In case of loss of employment, third-country workers can remain in the Member State for a certain period of time during the validity of the single permit so they can look for a new job. The recast Directive also contains provisions to further simplify the application process for work permits and strengthen protection of workers from third countries.
The next step in the legislative process will be the opening of negotiations between the Member States (the Council) and the European Parliament. When agreement is reached, the legislative proposals will be adopted.
Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, official website: