BRUSSELS (Agencies): EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that proposed new migration reforms would replace the so-called “Dublin Regulation”, which governs which member state handles a new arrival’s asylum claim.
“I can announce that we will abolish the Dublin Regulation and we will replace it with a new European migration governance system. It will have common structures on asylum and return and it will have a new strong solidarity mechanism,” van der Leyen told European lawmakers in Brussels.
Earlier, the EU Commission chief called for Europe to work together on migration during her maiden “State of the European Union” address.
“I expect all member states to step up too. Migration is a European challenge and all of Europe must do its part,” she said.
The Dublin regulation was established in 1990 and has been reformed twice, most recently in 2013.
Under the rules, intended to prevent migrants from lodging multiple asylum requests in Europe, a member state that receives an asylum request must process it and the would-be refugee should not move on. The Commission is due to present its long-awaited and repeatedly postponed reform of European migration policy on September 23, and members have once more been debating the issue after a fire devastated a huge migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.
The existing regulation has been severely criticised in recent years, with southern European countries including Greece and Italy complaining that they have to bear the brunt of the migrant crisis. German Chancellor Merkel set aside the rules in the summer of 2015 to allow 900,000 mostly Syrian asylum seekers in – soon followed by countries with less experience of mass arrivals like Austria and Sweden.
But a “quota” system to redistribute migrants among EU member countries, hastily cobbled together at Germany’s request, never moved the 160,000 people originally agreed on. Initial openness to the newcomers foundered on the opposition of central European countries led by Viktor Orban’s Hungary – as well as a surge in support for anti-immigration populist parties in western Europe.