A Door Half-Closed
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The European Union reached a “historic” migration deal Wednesday that will overhaul the way it handles those seeking to migrate to the bloc, a move that ends years of political deadlock among EU countries while also seeking to curb the rising popularity of far-right parties, Politico reported.
Under the agreement, frontline countries in southern Europe will implement stricter asylum procedures at their non-EU border points and will have more power to remove rejected asylum seekers. Countries inland will have the option to accept a specific number of migrants or pay into a joint EU fund.
The full details of the deal have not been released, and officials said it is still preliminary. The agreement still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament and the European Council.
Still, observers said the proposal marks a shift to the right after years of unsuccessful attempts to find a consensus on regulations addressing the concerns of both border countries handling asylum seekers, and countries further inland worried about the influx of migrants moving from one EU nation to another.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola explained that the deal was “not a perfect package,” but hailed it as historic. Other EU officials and national leaders welcomed it with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen describing it as “an effective European response to this European challenge.”
However, a number of human rights organizations warned that the deal could negatively impact migrants and asylum seekers reaching European borders. They cautioned that the agreement would allow countries to arbitrarily detain children, remove migrants to so-called “safe third countries,” and increase “racial profiling.”
In 2015, the bloc faced its biggest challenge when more than a million refugees from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere arrived in the EU.
With the increasing influx of migrants into the EU over the past two years, there has been a parallel rise in the sway of far-right parties and other political groups opposing migration, according to the New York Times.
Metsola denied that the migration deal was influenced by the far-right, but had earlier claimed that the agreement would be crucial to fend off those groups in elections.
The agreement comes six months ahead of the European Parliament election, with polls indicating a surge in support for far-right, anti-immigration parties in nations such as Germany and the Netherlands.
Only on Tuesday, France’s parliament passed a controversial immigration bill lengthening residency requirements for migrant workers to access benefits, tightening migration quotas limiting the ability of immigrants’ children to become French, and easing the deportation of illegal migrants.
President Emmanuel Macron faced uproar and government-level resignations from within his own party for what is seen as an “ideological victory” for the far-right, embodied by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party, Deutsche Welle reported.