Reform of EU Asylum system: Wikström proposes permanent relocation system based on fairness and solidarity

ALDE MEP Cecilia Wikström today presented, at the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament, her report on the reform of the EU asylum rules. Wikström has modified the Commission’s proposal to reform the Dublin regulation that, according to the leading Swedish liberal MEP, is no longer fit for purpose. Wikström’s proposal is based on the following key principles:

•    Automatic registration of all arrivals by Member States with external borders to speed up process and break the incentives for secondary movements
•    A compulsory and permanent relocation system so all Member States are legally obliged to accept asylum seekers and contribute to relieve pressure on frontline countries
•    Removal of pre-Dublin admissibility procedures, so the responsibility for conducting admissibility procedures is shared amongst member states
•    Light family procedure to allow family reunification after assessment of the application
•    Allocation of groups of up to 30 applicants at a time
•    Introduction of an emergency break in the automatic corrective allocation system, which will be suspended if the member state does not protect and manage its external border
•    No opt-out from the corrective allocation system: paying EUR 250.000 per applicant to avoid the accommodation of refugees, as proposed by the Commission, must not be possible
•    Five year transitional period to determine the quotas for each member state based on factors such as GDP and population
•    Faster appointment of guardians for unaccompanied minors read more…

Reform of the EU asylum rules – creating a new Dublin system that works

On Thursday, 9 March 2017, Parliament’s lead MEP on the reform of the Dublin system, Swedish liberal Cecilia Wikström, will present her draft report to the Civil Liberties Committee.

The draft report is a first response to the Commission’s proposal, presented in May 2016, for reform of the Dublin regulation. This regulation, which determines which member state is responsible for processing an asylum application, constitutes the cornerstone of the EU asylum system, which is currently undergoing a major revamp.

In the report, Ms Wikström proposes ways to remedy the weaknesses of the current EU asylum rules, which became obvious in 2015 when more than one million people fled war, conflicts and persecution and applied for international protection in the EU, resulting in the near-total collapse of the system. To ensure that the new asylum system will work in practice, the rapporteur sets out three key priorities:

  • all member states must share responsibility for asylum seekers,
  • accelerating procedures: people needing international protection should get it much faster while those who do not have the right to asylum should be returned to their home countries in a swift and dignified manner, and
  • all asylum seekers should be registered upon arrival in the EU and member states with EU external borders must protect and maintain them.

read more…

Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE) re-elected Chair of the Petitions Committee

LIBE committee meeting. Exchange of views with Bernard CAZENEUVE, French Minister of the Interior

LIBE committee meeting. Exchange of views with Bernard CAZENEUVE, French Minister of the Interior

Cecilia Wikström will continue as Chair of Parliament’s Petitions Committee for the coming two and a half years. She was re-elected in the first round by Committee members on Monday.

“I am honoured by the trust shown in me by the Petitions Committee. As its Chair, I will now continue our work to make sure that the EU does better at addressing the needs and experiences of European citizens through our legislative work”, Ms Wikström said after the vote.

MEPs also elected, by acclamation, the four Vice-Chairs that will form, together with Cecilia Wikström, the Committee’s bureau:

Ms Rosa Estaràs Ferragut (EPP, ES) will be first Vice-Chair,

Ms Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT) will be second Vice-Chair,

Ms Marlene Mizzi (S&D, MT) will be third Vice-Chair and

Mr Pál Csáky (EPP, SK) will be fourth Vice-Chair.

According to the Rules of the Procedure of the European Parliament (Rule 204), the composition of the bureau of each committee must reflect the diversity of Parliament. It is not possible, for example, to have an all male or all female bureau, or for all of the Vice-Chairs to come from the same Member State.

Speech, General Assembly in Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants

img_488019 September 2016, New York – Address by Mrs Cecilia Wikström, Member of the European Parliament, at the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly in Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants Round Table 2: Addressing drivers of migration, particularly large movements and highlighting the positive contributions of migrants. And the video here (2hrs39mins)

Presidents, fellow delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, let me underline that not only is this high-level meeting timely, but it also takes place in New York City, a city which has been built by the will and the energy of migrants coming first from European countries and later from all around the world. We are all migrants in one way or another, the sons and daughters of people who left their homes to seek a better future. New York represents a tangible proof of their achievements: a city that is known all around the world for its dynamism and its energy.

The New York declaration achieves outstanding improvement in the way the international community approaches the issue of international mobility. I would like to pay particular tribute to these achievements: read more…

New rules to attract non-EU students, researchers and interns to the EU

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Harmonised EU entry and residence rules to make it easier and more attractive for people from third countries to study or do research at EU universities were approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The new rules clarify and improve conditions for non-EU interns, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs.

The new rules merge two existing directives (one on students and one on researchers) to ensure that:

  • students and researchers may stay at least nine months after finishing their studies or research in order to look for a job or to set up a business, which should also ensure that Europe benefits from their skills,
  • students and researchers may move more easily within the EU during their stay. In future, they will not need to file a new visa application, but only to notify the member state to which they are moving, for example to do a one-semester exchange.
  • Researchers will also be able to move for longer periods than those currently allowed,
  • researchers have the right to bring their family members with them and these family members are entitled to work during their stay in Europe, and students have the right to work at least 15 hours a week.

“I am glad that the EU recognizes the value of attracting highly skilled people to come here and to entice them to stay by creating a harmonized European system applicable in all member states, said lead MEP Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE).

read more…

ALDE Press release “No bazaar politics over visa liberalisation”

21650031055_c1bf535336_zsmallTurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has declared that Turkey will renege the EU-Turkey deal if Turkey does not get visa liberalisation this summer. The Liberals and Democrats remind the Commission that all 72 criteria have to be met before it proposes visa liberalisation. ALDE Group leader also reiterates its plea to get our own European House in order so that we are not totally dependent on Erdogan anymore.

The ALDE LIBE coordinator Cecilia Wikström added: “It is sad to see how EU-leaders are trying to outsource our European responsibilities to Turkey, by trying to set up a system which ensures that Europe does not need to receive any refugees, despite our international commitments. Turkey is a country that shoots and pushes back refugees at the Syrian border and it is impossible for the EU to cooperate with a country which does not respect international law. It is a mistake to believe that Turkey can solve our problems. Only a truly European approach, based on solidarity and compassion can do this.” read more…

Speech in plenary on the European Parliament’s request of a holistic EU-apporach on migration

CaptureWatch my speech in plenary here:

Mr President, the report on a holistic approach to migration contains many good elements, and I would like to thank the co-rapporteurs for their excellent work on this. I consider this report an important blueprint for how the EU could create a common well-functioning asylum system fit for today.

The crisis in Europe demonstrates the complete failure of our national governments to set up a functioning asylum system fit for the world of today, but unfortunately national leaders have played the rhetoric up to such a level that they manage to convince both themselves and parts of the electorate that we cannot do anything about the crisis.

We need to get this straight: one million refugees as against 500 million Europeans represents 0.2% of our population. Compare that to a country that I visited last week, Lebanon, where a 30% ratio is facing the everyday life of the Lebanese people: there we are talking about a great influx and a big, big problem.

I am convinced that the vast majority of European citizens want to see a fair system that grants protection and dignity to people fleeing persecution and war, and at the same time they want Member States to share the responsibility in a fair way, where each country gives its contribution and shares the responsibilities.

Today I hope that we are going to send a clear message to the citizens of Europe that this European Parliament has the vision for such a system. As the rapporteur for the reform of the Dublin Regulation, I am especially proud of the joint commitment from all major political groups in this House to real reform of the Dublin Regulation, which will enable us finally to see a centralised European system where applicants are distributed fairly among EU Member States.

But after the vote of today, we will all need to get to work to ensure that this initiative is followed by determined and concrete legislation.

Debating in plenary on the European agenda on migration

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Watch my intervention here.

Madam President, during the last few months this continent has been faced with an unprecedented number of refugees fleeing from conflicts and oppression. The response from national leaders has frankly been quite pathetic. We have seen calls for systematic mass refoulement of refugees at our borders, in obvious contravention of international humanitarian laws and the Treaties and laws of the Union.

We have seen the reintroduction of internal border controls despite calculations from the Bertelsmann Institute indicating that only the financial cost of the collapse of Schengen could be as high as EUR 1.4 trillion over a 10-year period. We have seen Member States engaging in a race to the bottom with regard to the reception standards for refugees, hoping that this would push them elsewhere.

But what we have not witnessed, however, is European leadership and a willingness to move towards the only solution that can in the long-term return sovereignty and control of the situation to the peoples of Europe. In other words, joint action with the Community method to ensure a fair, reasonable division of the responsibilities for the people fleeing.

What we need is for us to manage our borders together, to share the responsibility for receiving refugees together, to find ways to repatriate those that do not meet the criteria for international protection, and that we do this together under dignified conditions.

Commissioner Avramopoulos and First Vice-President Timmermans, keep up the good work within the Commission and propose now a true European solution, not least in the upcoming Dublin reforms. It is high time for the Commission and this Parliament to take the lead, together with a few courageous leaders we still can count on in Council. Why? Because Europe simply deserves it today.

MEPs call on member states to speed up the ratification of the Marrakesh treaty

CW plenum1The Council and the EU member states should accelerate the ratification of the Marrakesh treaty to facilitate access to books for blind and visually impaired persons, MEPs urge in a resolution adopted on Wednesday. Marrakesh Treaty, adopted in 2013, aims to enhance cross-border exchange of books in accessible formats such as Braille or large print.

 

“The lack of commitment from member states to reach a constructive agreement is a clear violation of the right to easily accessible information, enrolled in the UN convention on rights for people with disabilities”, Petitions committee chair Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE) said.

 

“The European citizens have waited long enough. After four years with lack of understanding for the needs of people with disabilities, it is time to find a political solution in support of the blind and the visually impaired persons’ right to literature,” she added. read more…