The opinion on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum presented by the European Commission on 23 September 2020 is an opportunity to practically address the issue of migration which, despite being a constant feature throughout human history, represents an urgent task for the EU and its Member States who need to build a stable migration system fully grounded in European values and international law. According to the European Commission, he Pact represents and attempt to 'move away from ad-hoc solutions and put in place a predictable and reliable migration management system' . It advocates integrated policy-making and comprises policies in the areas of asylum, migration, return, external border protection, fight against migrants’ smuggling and relations with third countries.
The policy area 'Migration and integration' falls under the CoR's overarching political priority 2: Managing fundamental societal transformations: Building resilient regional and local communities'. Under this priority, all European decisions should be taken in light of the commitment to tackle the major societal transformations
facing the villages, cities and regions.
The primary objective of this opinion is for the regional and local input to be taken into consideration in the reform of EU’s migration policy. This is because the socio-economic impact of migration and everyday questions of reception and integration of migrants are strongly felt at local and regional level. The issue can be even more significant for the cities and regions that are close to points of entry into the EU as well as for the ones that receive many asylum seekers or refugees. The experience shows that migration occurs not only cross border, but also within the same country from one region to another as migrants from the same town or region in countries of origin tend to concentrate in the same geographical areas in the host country . This must be acknowledged and these regions need additional support.
The position of the European Committee of the Regions with regards to future EU migration policies is contained in its Resolution adopted on 2 July 2020 concerning its priorities for 2020-2025, 'Europe closer to the people through its villages, cities and regions' . Under the points 41 and 42, the CoR's priorities (and hence the objectives of this opinion) are to:
Ensure that the EU develops a comprehensive, humanitarian and fair migration policy and does not leave its Member States, border regions, islands and outermost regions alone in dealing with the migration crisis, as this is both a national and a European issue; support the exchange of best practices between regional and local authorities on the integration of migrants;
Provide regional and local input into reforming the EU’s migration policy, including integration, fair return procedures and asylum policies that should be able to respond adequately to current and future migration trends; address the root causes of migration, in cooperation with countries of origin and transit, for those in need of humanitarian protection; protect the EU’s external borders; prevent irregular migration and fight against human trafficking.
16 February 2021
MEP Tomas Tobé (SV/EPP) at CIVEX commission
European Parliament's rapporteur on the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation – Tomas Tobé (SV/EPP) – participated in the CIVEX commission debate on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum where he presented his views on the shortcomings of the current European asylum and called for a well-functioning migration system with meaningful solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibility across the Union, while pointing out the impracticability of a mandatory relocation mechanism.
4 March 2021
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE:* POTENTIALS & LIMITATIONS OF SUBNATIONAL RESPONSES TO THE MIGRANT QUESTION IN EUROPE*
The international conference “Potentials and Limitations of Subnational Responses to the Migrant Question in Europe” organised by Inter Alia ( a civic action, non-profit organisation aiming at the creation of an inclusive and active European civil society) brought together mayors and local representatives, EU policy makers, civil society and scholars to discuss EU migration policy and policies outside the framework of nation-states, including local governance institutions and civil society.
Antje Grotheer (DE/PES), rapporteur of the European Committee of the Regions on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, took part in the panel debate on European Governments & the Civil Society: Towards a Permanent Break over the Migration Question?
**More information can be found on: https://interaliaproject.com/event/international-conference-potentials-limitations-of-subnational-solutions-to-the-migrant-question-in-europe/
17 March 2021
MEP Tomas Tobé (SV/EPP) at CoR Plenary debate on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum
Speaking at the CoR's plenary on 17 March, the European Parliament's rapporteur on the asylum and migration management regulation – Tomas Tobé (SV/EPP) – said solidarity should be "mandatory" but with "flexible" options, adding that new ideas for forms of solidarity would probably be needed. He said: "The current European asylum system is flawed, which heavily affects the regions and local areas, especially in the frontline Member States. To ease this pressure, we need to have a well-functioning migration system. We need meaningful solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibility across the Union -- but we have to find pragmatic solutions, because we have been discussing this basically since 2016 with very, very slow progress. But no matter what we will agree on, we need implementation, because if we had a functioning implementation of the current system, we would not be in the problems we have now. We have a lot of things to do before we can come to any kind of political conclusions on the Pact.". He also called for prioritising refugees over irregular migrants.
25 March 2021
New Pact on Migration and Asylum and Bremen, Germany
Antje Grotheer (DE/PES), CoR rapporteur on the opinion on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, presented her position in an online event organised by Bremen, Germany. The EU's refugee policy is often and fiercely debated. The positions are polarised and range between the desire to limit the reception of refugees, a complete opening of borders, a fairer distribution of refugees within the EU and an improvement in conditions in the reception camps.
The focus is often on the inconsistent approach of the members of the EU, the action at the external borders and, above all, the lack of community action with regard to humanitarian grievances. Under the moderation of Elisa Rheinheimer-Chabbi (journalist) the event features an exchange ideas with the guests, Friedrich-Nikolaus von Peter, the political officer of the European Commssion Representation in Germany who presented the central building blocks of the package, and Karl Kopp, Head of the Europe Department at PRO ASYL, and Antje Grotheer, Vice-President of the Bremen Citizenship and Bremisches Member of the Committee of the Regions.
15 April 2021 - Rapporteur presentation of the CoR opinion on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum at the* IOM* ADMin4ALL Final Event
Supporting social inclusion of migrants in European cities
*IOM *Regional Office for the EEA, the EU and NATO and the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean – Mission to Italy & Malta
19 May 2021 - European Economic and Social committee - IMI event on 19/05/2021 "Building a meaningful and functioning New Pact on Migration and Asylum"
Antje Grotheer – Member of the Committee of the Regions, rapporteur for the opinion "New Pact on Migration and Asylum", presented her opinion in Session 1 – 'Taking stock of progress made in eight months after presentation of the Pact'
2 September 2021
Hearing of European Parliament's LIBE Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
European Committee of the Regions critical of New Pact on Migration and Asylum at a European Parliament hearing
Antje Grotheer (DE/PES), rapporteur of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum and Vice-President of Germany's Bremen City Parliament, presented the opinion of EU's cities and regions on the asylum & migration reform package at the hearing of European Parliament's LIBE Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on 2nd September. She was highly critical of the importance of the first entry criterion in the analysis of asylum applications, a criterion on which Member States “waste too much time", as well as of the failure to take account of the realities of the regions, particularly those on the front line of migration. She urged to this effect for a greater consideration of regional specificities in every aspect of the process.
“Consulting local and regional authorities is an essential element for the successful implementation of effective migration policies and cannot be considered a bureaucratic burden," said Ms Grotheer, stressing that the Treaty principles and Protocol on subsidiarity and proportionality require the European Commission to consult Europe's cities and regions.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
supports the Commission's objective of developing a comprehensive system for managing migration in the long term, including refugee migration, based on European values, in particular the values of solidarity and dignity, as well as on EU and international law;
is concerned that the local and regional dimension has not been sufficiently taken into account and that the countries on the EU's external borders are once again to have primary responsibility for arrival and registration; is critical of the fact that the first entry criterion is being maintained;
welcomes in principle the proposal to introduce a solidarity mechanism; however, is sceptical about whether the 'return sponsorship' system is feasible in practice;
underlines the importance of human rights and the rule of law, principles which also apply at the external borders of Europe. This holds true particularly for the proposed border procedures; a different model from the one linked to the protection rate should be chosen;
calls for the proposed screening procedure to be conducted in a way that allows for an effective identification of "particular vulnerabilities" at an early stage and underlines the need to avoid duplications;
notes that successful crisis management begins at local and regional level; coordination with local and regional authorities should therefore be a top priority;
suggests that immediate protection be granted, at the discretion of Member States, in crisis situations not only to refugees from armed conflict, but also to other vulnerable groups;
proposes setting the age threshold for biometric data collection within the framework of Eurodac at the age of 12 years;
welcomes the Commission's wish to create safe pathways to Europe; calls on the Commission and the Member States to further expand resettlement programmes, set up more humanitarian reception programmes, such as community sponsorship programmes, and encourage the recruitment of skilled and talented workers from third countries;
stresses the need for easier, clearer access for local and regional authorities, including at macro-regional level, to EU funding for integration and inclusion;
strongly supports the Commission's objective of stepping up the fight against migrant smuggling; calls for a particular focus on the potential victims of trafficking.