EU asylum system must be reformed

The EU migration and asylum policy aims to find sustainable solutions to the opportunities and challenges created by migration. The asylum systems of the Member States should be as uniform as possible to put the common policy in practice.

The Common European Asylum System has been gradually constructed over a long period, and the Member States’ practices are already largely based on EU legislation. However, the migrant crisis in 2015 and 2016 revealed weaknesses in the system: protracted processing of asylum applications, variations in the grounds for granting protection, and an unfair sharing of responsibility for managing migration among the Member States.

The Commission’s new communication of autumn 2020 will continue the reform work

In order to resolve the problems, the previous Commission submitted a package of seven legislative proposals in 2016. Its purpose was to harmonise decision-making and the reception conditions and to make the common asylum system more efficient and crisis-resistant. However, the legislative package has not been adopted by the EU legislators.

The EU continues its determined efforts to create a uniform and well-functioning asylum system. On 23 September 2020, the Commission issued a broad communication on migration and asylum, defining the EU policy for the coming years. The communication also included brand new legislative proposals on migration management and amended versions of the 2016 proposals in the field of asylum.

Well-functioning asylum system needs a clear division of responsibilities and quality procedures

Determining the country responsible for processing an asylum application must be clear-cut, and asylum seekers should be registered in the country where they first arrived. In addition, efforts must be made to streamline and speed up the asylum procedure and to ensure the legal protection of applicants. Member States must also have the means to weed out groundless applications right at the beginning of the procedure and to process them quickly.

The sharing of responsibility for asylum seekers must be fair and sustainable for all Member States. In normal conditions, all Member States should be able to meet their obligations. There should also be a well-functioning system for responding to different types of emergencies and crises so that Member States can be supported quickly and effectively.

Comprehensive approach ensures a functioning system

Different policy sectors need concerted and consistent action to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the EU migration and asylum policy.

Developing legal migration pathways is an important element of this comprehensive approach. Attention must be paid, for example, to promoting the reception of quota refugees and to making better use of the existing legal pathways for work and study purposes.

An effective and sustainable return system is also closely linked to a well-functioning migration and asylum policy. To cite an example, it is important to support the reintegration of returnees, as this is one way to promote sustainable return and the opportunity for returnees to start a new life in the home country.

Finland and the EU should seek to address the root causes of uncontrolled migration, such as youth unemployment, climate change and population growth. This is just one more reason why we need equal and sustainable partnerships with the countries of origin and transit.

It is important for Finland, as a Member State with an external border, that the control of the EU’s external borders is both effective and credible, while respecting the fundamental and human rights.