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EU Reaches Major Migration Agreement

FILE - Federal Police attempt to find a group of migrants who illegally crossed the border from Poland into Germany, while on patrol in a forest near Forst south east of Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)
FILE - Federal Police attempt to find a group of migrants who illegally crossed the border from Poland into Germany, while on patrol in a forest near Forst south east of Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)
EU Reaches Major Migration Agreement
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The European Union has reached an agreement that sets new rules for controlling migration.

The deal, announced Wednesday, will become part of an EU agreement called the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The Associated Press reported the document will need to get final EU approval by February and is expected to enter into force by June.

The main purpose of the agreement is to set new rules to ease difficulties facing EU nations as they seek to deal with migrant arrivals. The deal also aims to establish a process for EU nations to more fairly share the duties and costs related to migration.

The laws cover screening policies for when migrants first arrive in the EU. They also provide rules relating to migrants seeking asylum and set guidelines for processing applications and dealing with possible migration crises.

“It’s truly a historic day,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told reporters in Brussels after the negotiations. She added that reaching an agreement was important because migration is likely to be a major campaign issue ahead of EU elections in June.

“Let’s not underestimate the risk if we had not reached such a deal,” Metsola said. She added that she hopes the agreement will persuade EU members not to establish individual borders because the migration flows can now be more effectively dealt with.

Migrant arrivals in the EU are down from a high in 2015 of more than 1 million. Most of those migrants entering Europe were fleeing war in Syria and Iraq. But the flows started to increase in recent years and reached 255,000 so far this year through November, Reuters news agency reported. More than half of these crossed the Mediterranean from Africa, mainly to Italy.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi called the deal a "great success" for Europe and Italy. He said it should help EU border countries most involved with migration feel less alone.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said finding agreement on migration disputes was very important and can help lighten the load for the most affected EU states, including Germany.

Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he sees the deal improving “control over migration” and providing a better asylum process for migrants to the EU. Far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders aims to replace Rutte after winning the country’s elections last month on a campaign that included anti-migration policies.

Under the new system, countries not at the EU border will have to choose between accepting their share of 30,000 asylum applicants or paying nearly 22,000 euros per person to the EU.

The screening system seeks to separate those in need of international protection from others who are not.

People whose asylum applications have a low chance of approval – such as those from India, Tunisia or Turkey – can be prevented from entering the EU and detained at the border. People seen as representing a threat to security can also be held at the border. The agreement also sets policies for speeding up the processing of applications.

While praised by many European leaders, the agreement also received criticism from groups seeking to assist migrants.

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles – a migrant rights organization – condemned the proposed rules on X, formerly Twitter. The group said the policies were “Byzantine in their complexity and Orban-esque in their cruelty.” The message was commenting on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who ordered the building of security fences to keep migrants out of the country.

Rights group Amnesty International said it sees the deal setting EU asylum law back many years and leading to greater suffering for people seeking asylum. It also said the agreement is likely to cause more people “to be put into de facto detention” at the EU’s borders, including families with children and other “vulnerable” individuals.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press and Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

screen – v. to find out information about someone in order to decide whether they are suitable for a particular purpose

application – n. an official and usually written request for something

de facto – adj. existing in fact, although perhaps not intended or officially accepted

vulnerable – adj. easy to hurt or attack physically or emotionally