Netherlands must take lead in new EU asylum agreements

12 June 2013

Netherlands must take lead in new EU asylum agreements

The European Parliament votes today on amendments to the existing European Union asylum agreements. ‘Yesterday I confronted European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström with the fact that the current Dublin system is falling apart and that she’s a great deal of work to do,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘She gave the impression, however, that she’s totally jaded and that proposals for a new system aren’t to be expected from the Commission. So they’ll have to come from the member states. That’s why a few months ago I offered Fred Teeven, Secretary of State for Justice and Security, a number of proposals with which he could get the discussion on this at the Council of Ministers in Brussels moving, so that the Netherlands could again lead the way in Europe on asylum and the Council could stop plodding along. These proposals were also discussed in our own national Parliament.’

Dennis de JongDe Jong’s proposals included the establishment of a European asylum centre, as he explains. ‘An unintended consequence of the Dublin agreements is that peripheral countries are faced with an enormous number of requests for asylum, each of which must be honestly handled,’ says De Jong. ‘The situation is now doubly problematic. The asylum centres in Greece and other places are overcrowded, which leads to degrading situations. Moreover, such countries have no interest in having proper border controls, because every check can lead to new requests for asylum, further increasing pressure on the reception system. So I want to see European asylum centres near to the external borders so that the member states can take collective responsibility for the proper handling of asylum seekers.’

The asylum package to be voted on today deals not only with reception, but also with granting the police and the judiciary access to the European databank containing asylum seekers’ fingerprints, as De Jong explains. ‘This databank exists so that the identity of an asylum seeker can be checked and to see whether he or she has already requested asylum in another member state,’ which Dublin is designed to avoid. ‘Allowing the judicial authorities access to it completely criminalises these people, which is unacceptable. Making a request for asylum isn’t a crime and asylum seekers aren’t automatically suspects. The European Parliament must reject this proposal.’

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