Provisional EU measures would help Latvia, Lithuania and Poland manage migration
On 1 December, the European Commission issued a proposal for provisional emergency measures for the benefit of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The proposal is part of a set of joint EU measures aimed at responding to Belarus’s actions. Belarus has made efforts at its borders to instrumentalise migration for political purposes. The Government expressed its position on the proposal in its communication submitted to Parliament on 27 January.
The proposal would create a temporary emergency procedure for managing asylum issues and migration for the countries affected by the actions of Belarus. At the same time, individuals would be able to apply for asylum and be ensured that their applications would be processed appropriately.
The Commission proposes the following measures:
- The registration deadline for asylum applications could be extended from three days to four weeks.
- Under certain conditions, the so-called border procedure could be applied to all applicants. This means that their applications could be examined at or near the border.
- Material reception conditions could be limited to basic needs, which include food, water, clothing, adequate healthcare and temporary shelter from the moment an application is made.
- Rather than applying the EU Return Directive, the return procedure could be decided on at the national level.
The measures would be applicable for six months, which, according to the Commission is considered sufficient to effectively manage the exceptional situation. Latvia, Lithuania and Poland would not be obliged to introduce these measures, but the Council decision would allow for this. The measures could not be applied outside these three countries.
A United EU is a strong player
The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that in the event of one or more Member States being confronted by an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries, the Council may adopt provisional measures for the benefit of the Member State(s) concerned.
The Government considers it important that the EU stands united when responding to the current situation. The Government approves the provisional measures proposed by the Commission as part of the set of joint measures. These provisional measures do not derogate from the obligation to process an asylum application, from the requirement to examine the application individually nor from adequate means of legal remedies.
The Government stresses that, alongside these exceptional measures, work to reform the Common European Asylum System must continue. The System must be developed in a way that enables efficient, proportionate and more flexible ways for Member States to respond to changing situations while respecting fundamental and human rights.
Discussion on responding to instrumentalisation of migration continues
The EU is trying to agree on a temporary mechanism as soon as possible so that it can be used in the current situation. More extensive political discussion on how to respond to the instrumentalisation of migration will probably continue in early 2022 in different Council configurations.
On 14 December, the Commission also submitted a proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of instrumentalisation in the field of migration and asylum. The Regulation would allow all Member States to derogate from certain European Union rules in these situations. The content of the measures would be similar to what the Commission is proposing to support Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
In addition, on 14 December, the Commission issued a proposal for amending the Schengen Borders Code. The proposal aims, for its part, to respond to situations of instrumentalisation of migration, and it would also include a definition of instrumentalisation.
The Government’s positions on these proposals will be formulated in communications to be prepared separately.
Kukka Krüger, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 270, [email protected]