On October 23 and 24, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) in a joint collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held its annual conference on the topic of ‘The Future of Asylum in Europe: Assessing and Capitalising on Changes at EU Level’. Keynote speakers agreed that refugees and migrants should be more involved in EU policy-making, as their stories should be told. Speakers also stated that disembarkation should be on EU soil, since the deal with Libya is contravenes all principles of human rights. The future of asylum in Europe was discussed and views on the EU agenda brought forward.
On October 8, European Justice and Home Affairs ministers met to discuss the new relocation framework set up by Finland, France, Germany, Italy, and Malta, which is based on voluntary collaborations amongst member states. The new deal holds that within four weeks, migrants and refugees will be either relocated amongst participating member states or returned if they are not in need of asylum. The arrangement is expected to run until the new college of commissioners takes over in November 2019. Only three additional member states pledged to join the deal after the meeting.
In the light of last week’s agreement on a new, temporary relocation system, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in the European Parliament organised a hearing on October 3rd on the topic of ‘Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean Sea’. The debate touched upon core issues of the EU’s obligation, both legally and morally, to rescue people at sea. The debate precedes a renewed member state discussion about refugee relocation on 8 October.