De Jong: new European asylum package needed

15 February 2011

De Jong: new European asylum package needed

On the initiative of SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong and others, the European Parliament today debated asylum policy in Europe. Several EU member states are unhappy with the new asylum package establishing revised rules regarding the reception, processing and return of asylum seekers. These new rules are urgently needed because the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently banned the forcible return of asylum seekers to Greece, where many of them enter the EU and where the current rules say their applications should therefore be processed. 'Without sound European rules it’s only a question of time before Italy too fails to meet standards,’ warns De Jong. ‘The ECHR would then block the transfer of asylum seekers to Italy. Clearly we now need to find rapid agreement on reception and processing, and on the division of responsibilities. An emergency procedure for extreme situations such as we see now on Lampedusa must form part of this.’

Dennis de Jong In today’s debate the SP supported last week’s urgent call from Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to the member states for a collective handling of all parts of the asylum package, rather than each part being agreed on separately. “You can’t separate difficult matters such as reception and processing from negotiations on a new system for the assignment of responsibilities for handling asylum requests,” insists De Jong. “Just look at Lampedusa, where a massive influx has undermined both reception procedures and the proper processing of asylum seekers.”

De Jong also stressed the importance of an emergency procedure. “If we have at our disposal an emergency procedure under which for a time no requests for asylum are transferred to Italy or Greece then these countries will have the time and space to put their affairs in order,” he said. “Unfortunately the member states which now take few asylum seekers don’t want this.” De Jong ‘s hope is that pressure from the European Parliament will persuade the member states to change their position and bring agreement on the Commission’s proposals closer.

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