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EU Passes Asylum and Migration Pact After Eight Years

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The European Parliament has passed a significant reform that tightens the EU’s immigration and refugee regulations, following years of talks.

Since 2015, the EU Asylum and Migration Pact has been under development. It will become operative after two years. Its goal is to expedite the asylum procedure and encourage undocumented migrants to return to their countries of origin. Additionally, it will mandate that EU members split accountability for asylum seekers.

Approximately 380,000 migrants entered the EU illegally last year, the most since 2016.

According to the EU, the agreement blended flexibility and “mandatory solidarity” across member states. The agreement is expected to be fully approved by majority vote at the end of April, notwithstanding the opposition of some EU nations to some aspects of it.

The new regulations would give options to the 27 member states of the European Union to either accept thousands of migrants from “frontline” nations like Greece, Italy, and Spain, or finance them or provide resources.

Additionally, the agreement states that asylum petitions with “low chances of being accepted” must be investigated quickly and do not always require the applicant to be admitted into the European Union. It attempts to process asylum requests no later than 12 weeks. Asylum applicants would have the same amount of time to be forcefully returned to their native country if their application was denied.

Within seven days, migrants will be subject to a more stringent pre-entry screening process that will involve identity, health, and security checks. Every immigrant who is six years old or older will have their biometric data gathered, and a system will be in place to deal with spikes in the number of new immigrants.

The two largest political parties, the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the center-right European People’s Party Group (EPP Group), have endorsed the migration agreement.

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