European Parliament approves controversial migration pact, sparking uproar from nationalists who vow to bring it down after EU election

Members of European Parliament participate in a series of votes as they attend a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
By John Cody
4 Min Read

The European Parliament has approved the controversial EU Asylum and Migration Pact, which will see countries forced to accept their fair share of new arrivals into the bloc or pay a fine for every migrant they reject.

The new asylum and migration package was passed largely with votes from lawmakers affiliated with the European People’s Party, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and Renew Europe, with MEPs being urged to swallow their criticisms of the scheme and vote for the compromise legislation.

“History made,” tweeted European Parliament President Roberta Metsola as she praised what she described as a “robust legislative framework on how to deal with migration and asylum,” noting it had been “10 years in the making” but the EU had kept its word.

Some MEPs on both the left and the center-right revealed they voted through the pact despite its many flaws.

“The new legislation is not perfect but we can only make migration manageable and humane with one European solution,” said Hilde Vautmans, foreign affairs coordinator for Renew Europe.

Nationalist politicians across Europe expressed their anger at the passing of the pact, which they claim cedes sovereignty to an ever-centralized European Union.

“The Migration Pact organizes the tutelage and control of nations, the legal impunity of NGOs complicit with smugglers,” tweeted Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally. She further vowed to “put an end to the accelerated pursuit of policies to encourage and organize mass immigration,” on June 9 at the EU elections in which her party is expected to win the most French seats.

In the parliamentary debate that preceded the vote, Le Pen’s party leader Jordan Bardella confirmed that those within the Identity and Democracy (ID) parliamentary group would be voting down the legislation.

“Countries will be forced to welcome thousands of migrants into their towns and villages or pay dearly to be spared!” Bardella told the chamber, warning that Brussels wants to redistribute new arrivals while nationalist politicians want to “send them back.”

After the vote, Bardella took to social media to denounce the “terrible European Migration Pact” that seeks to “impose the distribution of migrants in our municipalities under penalty of financial sanctions.”

Voting was briefly suspended on Wednesday evening due to a protest from inside the chamber from left-wing activists who urged those of their political persuasion to vote down the bill on humanitarian grounds.

“This Pact kills, vote ‘No!'” they chanted from the observation rooms as they threw paper airplanes down into the auditorium.

The Hungarian government reiterated its opposition to the pact following the vote with spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs citing Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó who “declared that regardless of any migration pact adopted by the European Parliament, Hungary will maintain its legal and physical border barriers and will not allow illegal immigrants entry, opposing the pro-war and pro-migration stance of Brussels’ leadership.”

The majority of lawmakers who passed through the pact were lukewarm on its contents but considered it to be a compromise to end the status quo existing in a Europe plagued by illegal immigration. The argument on the left is that it goes too far in targeting illegal migrants, while those on the right consider it to be yet another sovereignty grab that will do little to solve the crisis.

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