Commentary EP elections

Reform of EU asylum law: EP elections are the last blow for migration measures

Obviously, the planned EU reform on the asylum and migration policy is dead.

The European Commission presented the reform of the European asylum law and migration policy in spring 2016 in response to the migration crisis to help manage migration to Europe. However, more than anything, it strengthened hysteria around the so-called "migration quotas" in many EU countries. As time passed, the adoption of the changes began to prove to be an unattainable goal, and it is now clear that the planned reform of the asylum and migration policy is dead. Indeed, until the May EP elections, the new rules cannot be adopted, and after the formation of the new European Parliament and European Commission, it will be put on ice.

"If the current refugee crisis has taught us something, it is that the current form of the Common European Asylum System is not successful. The time has come for a reformed and fairer system based on common rules and shared responsibility," said the First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans while proposing a reform of the European asylum system in May 2016.

At that time, the European Commission had been responding to the migration crisis that struck Europe one year earlier. It presented a total of seven legislative proposals on migration and asylum management. However, two of them were profoundly opposed by some EU member states. The greatest contradictions were caused by the proposed reform of the Dublin Regulation, which determines which EU country is responsible for handling the asylum application. Furthermore, the proposal to harmonize asylum practices across the EU was also met with resistance.

However, a three-year-long search for a balance between "solidarity" and "responsibility" within the European Union has dug trenches that are still difficult to overcome.

One of the last chances to push through its "migration package" was the summit of EU leaders in June. The European Commission has called on the EU member states to make progress in asylum reform, but the EU states refused to do so.

Nowadays, the possibility of adopting an asylum and migration policy reform is practically non-existent. "The current European Commission doesn´t have sufficient diplomatic potential to enforce the reform ... In my opinion, the European Commission did not want to invest a huge amount of energy in such a problematic policy because of its experience in 2015 and 2016," says EU expert Michal Vít.

At the same time, the interests of the EU member states are too divergent. Paradoxically, the biggest dispute is between Austria and Germany, although the media frame it as a dispute between V4 and “the rest of the EU”. The potential reform threatens the political status quo in EU member states, so there is currently a minimal chance of an agreement.

The question, however, is what will happen with the reform of asylum law and migration policy after the EP elections. The proposals will probably be renegotiated once the new European Parliament is elected. The new European Commission won´t be assembled until November. According to the EUobserver magazine, a death knell is beginning to ring to the asylum reform.

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