Asylum and return: Commission proposes temporary legal and practical measures to address the emergency situation at the EU's external border with Belarus

1 Dec 2021 03:22 PM

The Commission yesterday put forward a set of temporary asylum and return measures to assist Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in addressing the emergency situation at the EU's external border with Belarus. The measures will allow these Member States to set up swift and orderly processes to manage the situation, in full respect of fundamental rights and international obligations, including the principle of non-refoulement. The proposal follows the invitation by the European Council for the Commission to propose any necessary changes to the EU's legal framework and concrete measures underpinned by adequate financial support to ensure an immediate and appropriate response in line with EU law and international obligations, including the respect of fundamental rights. The measures, based on Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, will enter into force after their adoption by the Council. The European Parliament will be consulted. The measures will remain in force for a period of 6 months.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, yesterday said:

“In the past weeks, we have managed to bring the EU's collective weight to bear in face of the hybrid attack directed at our Union. Collectively, the EU made clear that attempts to undermine our Union will only solidify our solidarity with one another.  Today we are giving living manifestation to that solidarity: in the form of a set of temporary and exceptional measures that will equip Latvia, Lithuania and Poland with the means needed to respond to these extraordinary circumstances in a controlled and swift manner and to operate in conditions of legal certainty.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, yesterday said:

“Although the EU's intense efforts have brought rapid results, the situation remains delicate. Today, to protect our borders, and to protect people, we are giving flexibility and support to Member States to manage this emergency situation, without compromising on human rights. This should allow the Member States in question to fully uphold the right to asylum and align legislation with EU acquis. It's also time limited and targeted. To make our response to hybrid threats future-proof, we activate the EU's formidable diplomatic and legal capacity, to apply sanctions and persuade third countries to stop flights. We will soon propose a reform of the Schengen rules. Making progress now on the Pact on Migration and Asylum is essential.”

Provisional measures proposed

The measures included in this proposal are of an extraordinary and exceptional nature. They will apply for a period of 6 months, unless extended or repealed, and will apply to non-EU nationals who have irregularly entered the EU from Belarus and are at the vicinity of the border or those who present themselves at border crossing points. The main elements of the proposal are:

Emergency migration and asylum management procedure at the external borders:

All procedures carried out in line with this proposal must respect fundamental rights and specific guarantees provided for by EU law, including the best interests of the child, emergency health care and needs of vulnerable people, the use of coercive measures and detention conditions.

Practical support and cooperation:

The Commission will regularly reassess the situation and may propose to the Council to prolong or repeal these provisional measures.

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